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Seaweed firm digs in after rejecting isles’ base

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The seaweed firm which rejected the Western Isles as a base for its expansion plans has insisted there will be no U-turn on its decision.

Marine Biopolymers Ltd (MBL) scrapped plans to build a £20million seaweed processing factory in Lochboisdale and is locating instead to Barcaldine at Oban.

Company bosses have said their decision is final and they will not be changing their minds – despite claims from the Uist community development company Storas Uibhist that the deal is not yet dead.

Ayrshire-based MBL had proposed to invest £20million in a seaweed processing operation on Gasaigh, creating up to 60 jobs and bringing much-needed employment and investment to the Uists.

Despite appeals from Storas and an intervention by Angus Campbell, the leader of Western Isles Council, the firm is insistent that the decision is final.

Director David Mackie said: “We have been evaluating a number of different locations, including Lochboisdale, and after extensive research and careful consideration we decided that the best option for MBL is to locate our new plant at Barcaldine.”

Mr Mackie dashed hopes that the company might reconsider, saying: “We have thought long and hard over this and now that the decision has been taken we will not be changing our minds. We are now focusing our attention on the Barcaldine site.”

Mr Mackie also revealed that MBL had informed Storas Uibhist of its decision in February.

The firm’s move prompted Mr Campbell to write to its chairman, Sandy Dobbie, asking for a rethink and offering to meet to discuss the circumstances behind its decision.

Storas chief executive, Huw Francis, stressed that it would also try to convince MBL to reconsider, saying: “We will continue to work with MBL to persuade the company to locate in Lochboisdale, alongside other tenants that have expressed an interest in establishing operations on Gasaigh island.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which had agreed to invest £5million in the seaweed plant, refused to comment on MBL’s decision, saying only that the location of any new development was a business decision to be taken by the company.

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