A COMMUNITY united – that was the message at a planning hearing on the Isle of Mull, Argyll, Scotland, as councillors voted unanimously to approve plans for a fish farm.
The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) applied for permission to construct a fin fish farm in Loch Tuath off Gometra on the west of Mull.
The plans were recommended for approval by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning department.
Penny Hawdon of SSC said she wanted to thank the ‘people living and working on Mull who have supported us through the application process’.
An extra four jobs will be created when the site is developed bringing the total of full time SSC staff on the island to 14.
Many locals voiced their support for the plans at the hearing in Dervaig Village Hall. Rebecca Munro lives and runs a business on Ulva.
She said: ‘There have been a lot of positive community benefits, a lot of people have family members who rely on fish farm jobs.’
She added: ‘I would prefer it if objectors would tell the truth. The more mistruths that are told the stronger the community gets.’
A last minute letter had been received by the council on Friday. It came from environmental lawyers employed by the owner of Gometra, Roc Sandford, and claimed approving the plans would be in breach of EU law.
Principal planning officer Richard Kerr said: ‘It is regrettable such a late representation has been made and I would suggest it is a tactical ploy to inhibit due process.’
The letter also suggested that there would be a legal challenge mounted to any permission granted by the planning committee.
Mr Sandford had raised concerns during the hearing about boat navigation should cages be installed but this was disputed by qualified navigators.
He told The Oban Times: ‘I think everyone on Gometra is extremely disappointed that legitimate safety concerns were ignored.’
Speaking after the hearing Stewart McLelland, chief executive of SSC said: ‘We’re delighted that the planning committee have approved our proposals.
‘We look forward to working with the people of Mull and developing and supporting the island as we go forward.’
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