Government officials are preparing to take action against a fish farm operator that has dumped hundreds of thousands of rotting salmon in the Western Isles, according to newly released emails.
Stornoway-based Whiteshore Cockles owns and operates the site on North Uist where the masses of fish that have died on their farms are left, The Times has reported.
A freedom of information request by the newspaper revealed environmental officials at the Scottish Government have uncovered “evidence of seepage at the side of the pits” and found the practice has “severely hampered” local residents’ quality of life.
Further correspondence from the government’s animal health and wellbeing division says they plan to look into “legal options on how to address Whiteshore Cockles Ltd not complying with the Method Statement (health and safety agreement)”, adding: “A submission is being prepared for the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands.”
Alternative system ‘not operational’
The Times reports that Holyrood granted the company a temporary exemption to environmental guidelines disallowing the dumping of animal waste in 2016.
An industrial drying system, which would turn the remains into fish oil, was due to be ready that year, but officials said “to date it is still not operational”.
Whiteshore owner Angus MacDonald, told the newspaper the waste drier should be operational by March 2022 and would provide ten local jobs.
Insisting the firm had always operated legally, he added: “Regulators, our local council and various authorities have been fully involved in every stage of our development.”
He said the company will “continue to liaise with all the relevant authorities, as they always have done, while the company waits for the final go-ahead [for the plant] from SEPA, Scotland’s environmental regulator”.