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NINE TIMES SEA LICE LIMIT

Two salmon farms in Scotland with very poor sea-lice records are the center of confusion as to whether or not they have planning permission to operate, claimed the environmental group Salmon and Trout Association of Scotland.

A request made under freedom of information law has apparently revealed that in 2009, Marine Scotland commissioned an audit of the environmental impact assessment conducted for the Ardessie A and B fish farms in Wester Ross back in 2002, and found it wanting, said the NGO.

The two fish-farms at Ardessie in Little Loch Broom have a very poor record of sea-lice control, it said.

Marine Scotland’s assessment concluded that “planning permission should be withheld” from the two Ardessie fish-farms under the government’s audit of pre-2007 fish farms.

The Highland Council, which has had responsibility for enforcing planning law at all fish-farms since 2007, was reportedly not told of the assessment or its outcome.

Marine Scotland has since stated that the Ardessie farms cannot now apply for Scottish Government approval.

“In 2008, the Highland Council gave permission for a change in cage configuration only at the Ardessie B fish-farm, but sensibly made that permission conditional upon the Scottish government later giving approval for Ardessie B, which we now know was declined. Therefore, under the 2008 condition, Ardessie B appears to be operating in breach of planning conditions.”

Guy Linley-Adams, solicitor for the environmental group, called for Ardessie B to be closed down, and called for an environmental impact assessment of Ardessie A, which may also be operating under questionable planning circumstances.

“In 2009 Marine Scotland commissioned an audit of an EIA which had been produced for the renewal of the Crown Estate lease of the farms in 2002,” a Scottish government spokesman told Undercurrent News in a comment.

“This assessment was completed to inform Scottish ministers how any potential application should be treated; as no application was received for either of these sites, this was not taken further. The assessment-identified deficiencies in the EIA concluded that it was not comprehensive enough for ministers to consider the farms through the audit process.”

“Should a planning application be received, it will be assessed for eligibility at that time.”

Wester Ross did not return requests for comment.

Prior to April 2007, all marine fish and shellfish farms in Scotland were consented by the Crown Estate. Since April 2007 planning authorities have had full planning responsibility for all aquaculture developments in marine waters.

Where the operation of a marine fish farm involves the use of equipment placed prior to April 1 2007, planning permission to operate may be granted by Scottish ministers through the audit and review process.

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