The planning history at Etive 3

This application made by Dawnfresh is the third application to be received by the Argyll and Bute Council since September 2014 relating to the same fish farm site.

The first recent application was made in 2014 – Modification of existing fin fish farm site comprising six additional cages, addition of feed barge and increase of cage sizes from 70m circumference to 80m circumference and increase in extent of moorings, ref 14/02249/MFF - to increase to 16 x 80m cages with a permitted biomass of 2,500 tonnes with addition of a permanently moored boat-style feed barge. That application was withdrawn, following several hundred representations objecting to the application and following a meeting with various regulators including SEPA which indicated that it was highly unlikely, due to the unusual hydrographic conditions in Upper Loch Etive, including a tendency to natural anoxia and poor water circulation with depth, that such an increase in biomass would be countenanced.

A second application submitted in September 2015 – Modification of existing fin fish farm site to include addition of feed barge increase in cage sizes from 70m circumference to 80m circumference and increase in extent of moorings, ref 15/02670/MFF – was also withdrawn after FoLE pointed out that the initial permission for Etive 3, granted by Scottish Ministers under the Town and Country Planning (Marine Fish Farms Permitted Development) Order 2011, related only to 60m cages[1] and the presence on site at Etive 3 of 70m cages was already in breach of existing planning and therefore could not be used as the basis of a modification application.

On 9th June 2016, the Council began planning enforcement by serving a Section 33A Notice on Dawnfresh as the use of 70m cages is a breach of planning control, under Section 123(1)(a) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended by the Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006. This notice required Dawnfresh either to remove the unauthorised cages, or submit a retrospective planning application for the installation of 10 x 60m cages within 28 days, neither of which Dawnfresh has done.

At the same time, the Council also served a Planning Contravention Notice upon Dawnfresh in relation to the storage of unused fish farm equipment at Etive 3 in breach of planning permission.

This current application, ref 16/01971/MFF relates to the replacement of 10 x 60m circumference cages with 10 x 80m circumference cages on an extended mooring grid.

[In this context, please note that the Supporting Information supplied by Dawnfresh makes reference to the second earlier application above, ref 15/02670/MFF, and tries to suggest that the small number of representations submitted to that application is, in some way, indicative of the level of opposition to those plans. In fact, the Council indicated very early in the process that, due to the incorrect legal basis of the 2012 application, it had agreed with Dawnfresh that it would not consider that application further and so the application public consultation was curtailed shortly after advertisement in the Oban Times for public comment. Conclusions should not therefore be drawn as to the level of support or objection to that earlier application. The intention of Dawnfresh to withdraw that application was announced publicly to would-be objectors by FoLE shortly after the advert appeared in the Oban Times on 15th November 2015 to avoid any further effort being made by objectors to address an already flawed application with the consequent drain on Council resources having to respond to such objections].

[1] Letter from Bridget Kelly, Marine Scotland to Richard Hopewell, Dawnfresh, 18th December