This application for bigger cages, on a much expanded grid at Etive 3 will damage the landscape of upper Loch Etive. That is obvious and needs no explanation.
The footprint of the Etive 3 farm now applied for, as against what is actually permitted, constitutes an increase of the existing surface area of cages at Etive 3 from 2,950m2 to 5,090m2, a 73% increase in the size of the farm.
Despite this, in its Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, the Dawnfresh application concludes that the proposal would have no significant adverse cumulative sequential visual effect on Loch Etive and surrounds.
However, the LVIA makes clear, at page 11, that “it is acknowledged that the original licence for the Port na Mine site was for ten pens at 60m circumference (19m diameter). However, it is considered that the difference between the magnitude of the change associated with an increase in pen diameter from 22.3m to 25.5m, i.e. as assessed and the magnitude of a change in size associated with an increase in pen diameter from 19m to 25.5m at the viewing distances and in the scale of the landscape assessed would result in a negligible change in effect. Consequently this theoretical scenario is not considered any further in this LVIA”.
Clearly, there is nothing theoretical about the scenario in that the current use of 70m cages is unlawful and not permitted.
The lack of permission for the existing farm has been subject of planning enforcement action from the Council, with a Section 33A Notice being served on Dawnfresh this summer, but Dawnfresh has already failed to take the prescribed steps within the time period allowed for in that notice.
The fact that the LVIA, as submitted in this application, has not been amended from its earlier version, to take into account the assessment of impact based on what should have been in the water, per the Scottish Government planning permission of 2011 (60m cages), means that the LVIA cannot possibly be considered to be sufficient for this application as it does not consider the overall impact of the proposed modifications based on what was lawfully permitted at Etive 3.
In effect, the Council must ensure that Dawnfresh cannot be allowed to ‘benefit’ from its use of unpermitted 70m cages in the manner now being suggested by the Dawnfresh application.