Canna salmon farm unacceptable, says National Trust for Scotland
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has said the threat posed to the marine environment and to tourism by a large fish farm is "unacceptable".
The conservation charity has written to Highland Council to oppose the proposed creation of a salmon farm near the island of Canna.
It said it has no confidence in the plans submitted by Norwegian fish farming giant Mowi.
Mowi already has farms off the neighbouring islands of Rum and Muck.
The new fish farm would cover 16,000 square metres (172,000 square feet), making it one of the largest of its kind in the UK.
Conservationists and environmental campaigners have voiced fears over the impact on wildlife and the marine environment.
NTS head of conservation and policy Stuart Brooks said: "Our concern is partly to do with the potential impact this development could have on the seabed, but there are other issues as well.
"The potential entanglement of seabirds within the nets and also the conflict that this proposal might bring with regards to seals attracted to fish farms.
"These are easy places (for seals) to get a meal and this could lead to conflict and ultimately that can lead to fish farm developers having to kill seals. Our fundamental position here is that we don't think a fish farm of this nature and scale is viable in this location."
Some of the other concerns raised by NTS are:
- the risks to protected and extremely rare marine animals
- potential of major landscape impacts on the onshore setting of the island by buildings and industrial structures
- the risk of spreading waste.
Mowi is one of world's largest farmed salmon producer, and the firm has about 40 farms in Scotland.
Mowi's director of communications in Scotland Ian Roberts spoke to the BBC last week about the new farm.
He said: "I can't discount the concerns, and we need to listen to those concerns. This is part of this process, the initial phase were we're in the scoping phase and encouraging feedback.
"But this is also the evolution of salmon farming and we just had a Scottish committee recommend that the government industry work together to look at offshore locations in higher energy sites. This fits that description and answers a lot of those concerns about localised impacts, like fish waste.
"We think its a proper and good development, but in this process we will bring it towards the development trust in Canna, and if they agree that the benefit far outweighs the risk then we'll move to the second stage which is applying for planning permission with the Highland Council."