Plans for multi-million pound fish farming investment at Oban

Artist impression of the development

Plans have been launched which will see a fish farming company make a £35million investment in Argyll.

Scottish Sea Farms intends to build a freshwater salmon hatchery on the site of the former Marine Resource Centre (MRC) at Barcaldine, north of Oban.

The company says the project will create 25 skilled jobs and allow it to expand its freshwater business.

A planning application has been submitted to Argyll and Bute Council.

Margaret Adams, convener of Ardchattan Community Council, said: “In general we are supportive. It is going to bring industry into the area and jobs into the area.”

This £35m investment is part of a total £70million spend anticipated over the next few years.

Scottish Sea Farms plans to build a new land-based RAS freshwater facility (Recirculating Aquaculture System) at the site for rearing young salmon, or smolts, in bio-secure and environmentally friendly conditions.

A period of consultation has been underway for the past six months and local community council, Ardchattan, is supportive of the plans.

Jim Gallagher, Scottish Sea Farms managing director, said: “We have ambitious plans for sustainably growing the volumes of salmon we produce to meet increased demand across the world for premium Scottish salmon.

“This site offers an ideal location providing everything we require in terms of power supply, freshwater and connection to the sea. As a result of this investment, Argyll will benefit from high-quality jobs and training opportunities which will include disciplines such as fish husbandry, bio-chemistry and engineering. It will also further increase our contribution to Scotland’s economic prosperity and the development of our coastal communities.”

In designing and developing this facility, Scottish Sea Farms says it will deploy best practice in fish health and husbandry, production and environmental impact. The facility will use 90% less water than traditional freshwater sites, and will deliver significantly improved energy efficiency.

Some parts of demolition on the site has already taken place and, if planning is successful, Scottish Sea Farms hope to begin construction on the site later this year, with the first fish reared in the new facility entering the water in 2019.

The site was formerly owned by shipbuilder Lithgows.

Port Glasgow-based Lithgows is owned by the Lithgow family, which farms at Ormsary Estate in Argyll.

Its MRC business took over the Barcaldine site – a former seaweed plant – in April 1997, unveiling plans to turn the centre into a one-stop shop for the fish-farming industry.