By Arthur Sevestre
Salmon farming corporation Hjaltland, owned by Norwegian Grieg Seafood, has applied for planning application for the first of three farms it wants to have in the South Skye Lochs, Lochs Slapin and Eishort. The deadline for comments from the public is 20 June 2014. The application procedure for the other two farms is expected to commence shortly.
A meeting organised by the Sleat Community Council yesterday was attended by about 40 people who heard Eileen Armstrong, James Merryweather and Peter Cunningham of the Wester Ross Fisheries Trust make a case against this particular proposal and against salmon farming in net cages in general. Hjaltland representatives had been invited, but were not present.
In many ways the meeting was a deja vu of where we were in 2012 when Marine Harvest applied for planning permission for a farm in Loch Slapin. Eventually more than 90 people, concerned locals ànd non-locals, sent in a comment to the Higland Council.
In some ways, however, the meeting was quite different from earlier ones. Where the Marine Harvest application led to quite a bit of panick and caught people who didn’t know much about salmon farming at all rather by surprise, now there is a well-organised little group of independent people on Sleat who have not been sitting still after Marine Harvest withdrew their application three days before the Highland Council would decide on the matter, but have been working hard all that time to make sure that opposition has not only grown, but is now also stronger, much better informed, and better prepared.
If you want to submit a comment of fewer than 4000 characters, you can do so by clicking HERE and then clicking on the ‘make a public comment’ button. It is highly recommended that you type your comment in your text editor (and save it) and then copy it into the appropriate window on the Highland Council website, or otherwise the page might expire before you hit the send button, and you will have typed everything for nothing and have to do it again.
Alternatively, especially if your comment will be longer than 4000 characters, is very technical or for other reasons, you can send your comment in an e-mail to email@example.com or send it to:
The Head of Planning and Building Standards
The Highland Council
An important goal of the meeting in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was to give people a lis of considerations they may want to include in their comments. It is important to realise that simply stating that you don’t want the farms because they ruin the view, or that you do want them because you think they’re good for jobs, isn’t optimally effective. It’s better than nothing, but it’s much better still to really explain why you do or don’t support the proposal.
Eileen Armstrong prepared the following document with guidelines. Of course you don’t have to write about all the points mentioned in Eileen’s file, and it’s also very possible that you have considerations which are not mentioned there. Just use it as a guide: CONSIDERATIONS
If you decide to take part in this democratic exercise*, thank you!
*It always remains to be seen if the voice of the people, or the strength of their arguments, will be recognised and listened to. Don’t count on a guarantee that many strong arguments from many concerned people will do the trick. Reason rarely wins in the corporate and political world. More may be required to keep this and the two following proposals from becoming operational.