One down, two to go! First planning permission for three new Hjaltland fish farms in South Skye Lochs refused.

By Arthur Sevestre

Salmon farming corporation Hjaltland is in the process of applying for planning permission for three new farms in Loch Slapin and Loch Eishort (South Skye Lochs) this year. The procedure for the second farm is currently ongoing (see here).

The procedure for the first of their applications has very recently come to an end, and the verdict from the Highland Council is NO.

About 70 public comments, of which only two were in favour of the new farm, and both from people involved in the industry, have possibly contributed to that outcome significantly. Especially because of efforts by a local group of people to emphasise the shamefully inadequate Environmental Impact Assessment  Hjaltland produced, as well as the extraordinary natural values of the area.

The Highland Council refused planning permission for six major reasons, which can be found in the following document:

28 14_01467_FUL-DECISION_NOTICE_-_REFUSAL-703533

This outcome is of course welcomed with open arms by many people on Sleat and Strath, but by no means are we finished with this. The second procedure is underway and the third will follow at some point. Whether planners feel that one or two of the three should be allowed remains to be seen. As far as most locals who’ve spoken out on this issue are concerned, however, none should be the number of fish farms in the South Skye Lochs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Hjaltland has the option to appeal and see if the government wants to override the Highland Council decision. This has happened before.

Please add your voice to the public comments on the planning permission application for the second farm here, and keep an eye on this site for notifications about the third one.

Invitation to comment on plans second salmon farm in South Skye Lochs.

By Arthur Sevestre

Comment on planning permission application HERE.

Salmon farming corporation Hjaltland has started the application procedure for planning permission for the second of three planned farms in the South Skye Lochs (Loch Eishort). Hjaltland is the company recentry kicked out of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) because it had been importing smolts from Norway without putting them in quarantine. This means that amongst salmon farming corporations, Hjaltland is the very last one which people should want to conduct business close to them (or anywhere).

70 public comments were sent to the Highland Council during the planning permission application process for the first farm, with only two supporting comments, and these from people with direct financial or job-related interests in this development or salmon farming in general. See here for details. Two years ago or so, Marine Harvest, the world’s largest salmon farming company, applied for planning permission in the same waters, and this led to more than 90 objections. Still the companies and government and Highland Council don’t give in and keep bombarding us with more applications.

Hjaltland is playing a clever game, intentionally or not, to apply for three separate farms in three separate application procedures. Although this is the way things should go according to the planning rules, it is not unlikely that people will object the first time planning permission is sought, but get tired or can’t find the time to object again and again.

But keep in mind what’s at stake here. This is about installing three big salmon farms, totaling an intended 660 tonnes of salmon produced. All this in the one sea loch system surrounding the Isle of Skye which is still free of salmon farms*. 660 tonnes of fish… what does that look like? Well, for example, it looks like about 94 adult african bull elephants (IMAGE OF 94 ELEPHANTS SUPERIMPOSED ON LOCH). Or it looks like at the very least 65,000 humans dumping their untreated fecal matter in those parts of the sea lochs (see here for more details and on why this isn’t such a great idea).

There have been fish farms in these lochs before, but they all closed because sea lice levels made farming impossible, no matter how much chemical warfare was waged on them. It is worth understanding that an infestation of diseases and/or parasites is  not a sign to declare chemical totalitarian warfare, but instead a sign that you are doing something fundamentally wrong and that the natural ecosystem is trying to restore balance. See here for more on that.

Please consider commenting on this application and help realise more than 70 objections this time. You don’t have to be a local to do so, because salmon farming is much more than a local issue; it affects salmon populations all around the world; human populations in poorer parts of the world where overfishing takes place to feed the farmed salmon intended to feed middle classes and up; etc.

You can comment HERE.

You can find many more reasons to object on this website and elsewhere on the internet. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. Also, HERE is a list of concerns written by local people campaigning these particular applications to help you on your way.

New Salmon Farm in Loch Slapin? How to Submit a Comment to Highland Council. Planning Application Ref: 14/01467/FUL

The site for the proposed Loch Slapin salmon farm.

The site for the proposed Loch Slapin salmon farm.

By Arthur Sevestre

COMMENT HERE

CONSIDERATIONS

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 eplanning@highland.gov.uk or send it to:

The Head of Planning and Building Standards
ePlanning Centre
The Highland Council
Glenurquhart Road
Inverness
IV3 5NX

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

The statistics of planning permission applications given the go-ahead.

The statistics of planning permission applications given the go-ahead.

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.


 

Truly Sustainable Aquaculture? This is it. Endorsed by Skye Marine Concern.

By Arthur Sevestre

Are there alternatives for the standard net cages in open sea water? Yes, there are. Sadly enough the most often discussed ones are not all that much better than what they claim to replace, but there are alternatives which truly can be sustained for a long, long time, and which benefit life in all its guises.

See it all explained in the following video (note that the video starts at about 35 seconds in):

More and more talked about are closed tanks floating in the sea, or shore-based tanks. These have the advantage that diseases and parasites cannot spread from the farmed animals to wild fish, and that used chemicals aren’t dumped right in the open water.

Are these options good alternatives? In the end they are merely less destructive than ‘conventional fish farms’. They are still a form of intensive industrial aquaculture, and still require gigantic amounts of feed for the fish, which almost always comes from overfishing of wild fish and/or (by)products of industrial agriculture. All this requires energy, costs a lot of money and is a heavy burden on ecosystems near and close.

But there is an alternative which is truly sustainable if done well. It isn’t ideal for corporate intensive purposes requiring huge amounts of fish to be raised and all to be harvested at once so large amounts of produce can be shipped off to often far away markets. The goal of such businesses is not to feed people, but to generate profit. They won’t find that in this structure. Tough for them.

Instead truly sustainable aquaculture is ideal for local people as a source of food and a source of direct income. And hear this: the fish do not need to be fed; the system promotes biodiversity instead of destroying it; after the work of making the system, it is self-sufficient and self-sustaining; it can also produce clean drinking water and energy; it is a manner of water management and it can and should work synergistically with the terrestrial community of life. This is holistic thinking and it has been working for years already on the Krameterhof, Sepp Holzer’s farm in Austria.

It is important to understand that Sepp Holzer hasn’t invented truly sustainable aquaculture. The same basic principles have been used for thousands of years. Especially parts of Asia are well-known for it.

These principles can easily be implemented in many parts of Scotland, and many other places on earth. If the salmon farming industry truly cares, as they profess, about jobs, local communities and economies, healthy water and healthy food, then they better pay attention to what is going on in Austria.


 

Planning permission for new salmon farm in Loch Slapin? Up to you!

By Arthur Sevestre

The site for the proposed Loch Slapin salmon farm.

The site for the proposed Loch Slapin salmon farm.

Should a new large salmon farm be built in Loch Slapin (Isle of Skye, Scotland) by company Hjaltland? From today you can officially comment on this question on the website of the Highland Council. Click here to do so. If that link does not work, go to the Highland Council eplanning page and enter the following in the search field: 14/01467/FUL

Hjaltland, owned by Norway-based Grieg Seafood, is expected to file two more planning permission applications for two more new farms in neighbouring Loch Eishort before the end of the month. Keep an eye on this blog to be notified when that happens.

Up to a point it is up to us to decide if an inherently destructive and therefore unsustainable industry should be allowed to invade these lochs and harm the local and not-so-local biodiversity, decimate the wild salmon and trout in the area yet again, pollute by dumping concentrated raw sewage into open water and by using toxic chemicals, etc.

The first step of that is to write your comments to the Highland Council. If you do, please try to put as many arguments in your comment as you can. Study the subject a bit, if you haven’t already, and make your comment an informed one. Merely stating that you don’t like the sight of salmon farms, or that they are harmful will not carry that much weight, although even that will be a lot better than nothing.

All too often it has turned out that public opinion will not get in the way of the goal the government and industry share to increase salmon farm production by 50% by 2020, and allowing the public to comment might be nothing but letting people have their say; allow them to feel good about that, and then completely ignore them. It certainly will be up to us to not allow those who claim to represent us to get away with that (again).

The deadline for comments is not yet entirely clear. I will post more information on this as soon as I can.

Once again, the link to the relevant Highland Council web page: http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=N3VEIBIH09K00

Alternatively, go to the Highland Council eplanning page and enter the following in the search field: 14/01467/FUL

HELP NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GET THE LINK BETWEEN POPULATION GROWTH AND FOOD PRODUCTION RIGHT.

By Arthur Sevestre
National Geographic is going to give a lot of attention to “the future of food”. The way they’re going to do it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the link between population growth and food production. This is what they write:

“No matter who we are or where we live, we all need to eat. And by the year 2050, we’ll need to double our crop production to feed everyone. As we think about how to feed nine billion people, join us for an eight-month series to examine the future of food.”

They assume that population growth requires increased food production while in reality the only way the population will grow to nine bilion is IF we FIRST produce enough food to make 9 billion bodies. Food production drives population growth, NOT the other way round.

The way National Geographic will cover this item will be greenwashing further intensification of totalitarian agriculture, genetic modification, and will further strengthen the position of such criminal organisations as Monsanto and Bayer.

I wrote an article about the link between population growth and food production specifically taylored to the campaign against salmon farming I’m working on, but it is perfectly useful for the subject at large: http://www.skyemarineconcern.org/the-immorality-of-increasing-production-in-salmon-farms-and-the-rest-of-the-food-industry-part-1/

Other very good sources of information about this subject are the books written by Daniel Quinn (Ishmael;  The Story of B; My Ishmael; If they give you lined paper, write sideways; etc.). I can’t recommend them enough. If you don’t know them, and are not too familiar with the link between food production and population growth, as well as a good number of other dangerous myths of civilised cultures, please do yourself a favour and get Ishmael.

I want to very seriously ask you to please write to National Geographic en masse to let them know that what they’re doing is based on an idiotic fallacy. And please share this far and wide and ask everyone you know to help out. Let’s swamp them!

Find more info on National Geographic’s campaign here:
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/magazine/ngm-food-anthem?utm_source=NatGeocom&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=inside_20140417&utm_campaign=Content

The Irrelevance of Oil Industry for Matter of Scottish Independence

By Arthur Sevestre
533145_472231976124522_1551294311_nBoth Scottish and English Politicians are currently trying to score points for or against Scottish independence by saying how the oil industry would benefit most from independence or from Scotland remaining part of the UK.

This shows once more that the question of independence is based almost exclusively on money, profit and power for the merger between government and corporations (Benito Mussolini called this merger ‘fascism’). The interests of normal people is almost completely ignored, but not nearly as much as the interest of a living world.

As part of the UK, Scotland is that poor bit in the north where very few people (of influence) live, which can easily be destroyed bit by bit for profit of Westminster and corporatism. As an independent nation, Scotland would need to destroy itself as efficiently as possible to compete with the UK. Either way, those taking the decisions would do all they can to convert what remains of the living landbase that is called Scotland ever faster into ever more dead products for the profit of the fascist power structure (be it UK or Scotland) and into toxic waste. This is not a choice I’m interested in making.

David Camoron has promised £3bn to develop deep sea drilling if Scotland remains part of the UK. I bet Salmond would love to be able to do the same. Both ignore the fact that deep sea drilling comes with so many dangers that the Gulf of Mexico has been converted from a rich biodiverse sea into a toxic body of water because of the BP oil disaster there a few years ago. Both Camoron and Salmond are happy to take that risk with the North Sea if it provides them with power.

That’s not even mentioning the fact that taking oil out of the ground to burn it is not a very good idea, even if you can do it without risking disastrous spills. On one hand Camoron is promising to do all he can to prevent floods and other effects of weather extremes the south of England has seen recently, and on the other he is anxious to squeeze all the oil from the ground to further facilitate the practices which are behind a rapidly changing and disruption of the global climate. What we’ve seen so far is only the very first beginning of severe disruptions, but it has well and truly begun now.

This whole debate about independence or not is useless if it doesn’t benefit the landbase (not just Scotland, but globally), but only corporatism. Let’s get out of that debate and talk about how we can save the planet from this culture’s death wish and death machine!

The people of Scotland ànd the rest of the Community of All Life in Scotland would benefit much more (or rather, they WOULD benefit instead of suffer) from regenerating the landbase. Wild salmon so plentiful that there’s hardly space left in the rivers for water is true life blood for the whole community, whereas salmon farms and industrial overfishing drain that blood away for the profit of foreign corporations. The same principle goes for oil companies, nuclear power companies, forestry companies, supermarkets and other big shop chains selling toxic and/or otherwise destructive ‘foods’ and ‘products’ from far away, etc. All these things are toxic mimics of the real thing. Just like an economy of money is a toxic mimic of an economy of ecology. What the power structure is after is to further empower those toxic mimics and to further destroy the real thing. If it would shift 180 degrees, I’d be all for independence. But it is vital to know what kìnd of independence! Not so much in terms of nation states, countries, rulers and so on, but it would be independence from a ruling system, a way of life based on toxic mimics. And it wouldn’t only be for Scotland, but for much smaller self-sufficient and truly sustainable (not Sustainable™) communities the world over.

For more information about the current nonsense going on in politics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26314009

Call for Comments: Scoping Application for Salmon Farm Uig Bay (Skye)

by Arthur Sevestre

Source: bbb.co.uk

Hjaltland, a salmon farming company based on Shetland, and owned by Norwegian corporation Grieg Seafood, is working hard to make the Isle of Skye its next stronghold. Great problems on Shetland with sea lice and other diseases the last few years might have something to do with that.

Apart from the planning permission application procedure Hjaltland is expected to initiate soon for three new farms in Lochs Slapin and Eishort (South Skye Lochs), there is now a new scoping permission application for 10 x 120m circumference circular cages and an automated feed barge approximately 400M North Of Camas Beag, Uig Bay (Isle of Skye).

There is a chance for interested parties to comment on this planning permission application on the Highland Council website. To find your way to the page where you can do this, go to http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/, and enter “14/00593/SCOP” as search term (they don’t make it too easy to find).

Will it be useful to comment?

Commenting on this application is important. There seems to be an overall trend of more and more people objecting to such applications, be they for a CAR licence, scoping or planning. This will send a signal to the bodies taking the final decisions which will either lead to more and more salmon farms in Scotland, or to halt (and possibly eventually reverse) the rapid expansion of the industry.

But to count on comments achieving that goal is to dream. Don Staniford of Protect Wild Scotland has revealed that out of 74 applications for new farms since 2008, the West Isles Council has approved 73 (almost 99%), and that despite the comments on many of the applications being objections.

Fact of the matter is that the Scottish Government has set itself a hard target of expanding the salmon farming industry by 50% by 2020. Even if there is too much resistance in some areas (and in 99% of the mentioned cases, resistance clearly was not a limiting factor), that is not supposed to reduce the government’s target; the industry will simply apply elsewhere. In short, even if those opposing salmon farming manage to prevent a few farms from being built, the proposed number will still be achieved, albeit elsewhere, where resistance is not prohibitive.

So firstly we are faced with authorities which don’t listen to our objections. Perhaps they offer the possibility of objecting merely so that we can have our say and feel so good about that achievement that we won’t even bother to really resist once our objections are simply archived (in the kind of archive which only serves as a bin which is never emptied). So far, they have been proven right.

Secondly, focusing on individual proposals for specific localities, we tend to forget that a growing salmon farming industry doesn’t only have impacts on local levels, but on national, international and global levels, making even a rare local victory on the side of the opposition meaningless on higher levels, because the damage will be exactly the same there.

Please do very seriously consider sending in a comment, but never count on it being enough. If we want to halt the expansion on a higher than local level, we will have to do much more, and the commenting stage is only the very first beginning. It is no more than the clarification of standpoints before the real process to achieve the different goals starts.

On Totalitarian Agriculture, Whether on Land or in the Water

DGR_Agriculture

Increasing food production is not vital for feeding a growing population; it causes the growth of the population and, apart from feeding the pockets of the great corporate food producers, feeds only the problems caused by overpopulation.

For more info on this: http://www.skyemarineconcern.org/the-immorality-of-increasing-production-in-salmon-farms-and-the-rest-of-the-food-industry-part-1/

Scottish Salmon Company withdraws licence application for Portree Bay

The Scottish Salmon Company (owned by Swiss and Norwegian banks and investors) applied for a licence to allow them to affect the water, seabed and the wild life in the more or less direct surroundings of their proposed expansions in Portree Bay. It is SEPA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which provides these so-called CAR (Controlled Activities Regulations) Licences, which supposedly serve to protect Scotland’s water environment.

Today SEPA wrote in a letter to those who sent in a public comment that:

.. the Scottish Salmon Company has withdrawn their application for the above new site and Sepa has returned the application to the operator.”

No information was given about the reason for the withdrawal.

When an application is withdrawn before SEPA has decided on whether or not to grant the licence, a few interesting conclusions can be drawn. One is that the procedure has already cost a significant amount of money, part of it coming from taxpayers. Two is that the already submitted public comments become worthless, and if a new application is filed, all those people will have to submit a letter again if they want their voices to be heard. Are they hoping that we will get tired of writing, and that in a few months time the number of objections will be smaller?

The statistics of planning permission applications given the go-ahead.

The statistics of planning permission applications given the go-ahead.

It is impossible to say if public comments had anything to do with the withdrawal. Despite many people sacrificing a lot of their time to writing objections to CAR Licence applications, out of 585 applications filed since 2006, only one (!) has been rejected by SEPA (see image).

Political decisions are no longer based on what is right and what is wrong, but on what makes maximum profit and what doesn´t.

Political decisions are no longer based on what is right and what is wrong, but on what makes maximum profit and what doesn´t.

If you think that writing objections against planning permission (the stage that usually follows a successful CAR Licence application) is likely to have a big effect, then think again. The image also shows that the vast majority of planning permissions is granted, despite often overwhelming objections. This clearly is not a democratic process. We are allowed to object, which tends to make us feel empowered and listened to; it makes us feel good and as if we’ve done something valuable. But then, while we still bask in good feelings, our objections are put away deep in the archives, and conveniently ignored.

Recent examples of this are Loch Kanaird (near Ullapool) where the Highland Council granted planning permission despite 100% out 47 public comments being objections against the proposal, and Loch Kishorn where the council decided not to grant planning permission, only to have the government overrule that decision and grant permission after all. For more on this, read this previous post.