Scottish salmon farmer's plans to build green homes on the remote island of Eday to prevent workers leaving due to the lack of housing have been approved
Salmon farming company Scottish Sea Farms has received approval for its plan to build six eco-friendly homes near the Mill Bay site on the Orcadian island where the lack of accommodation was forcing workers to quit.
Alongside local landowners Haydn Jones and Nick Lyde of Willowstream, the firm will construct four houses for employees, and two which will be available for rent by island residents, visitors or for contractors to stay near the site.
Although Mill Bay's salmon production is booming, workers have previously left their jobs due to the housing shortages on Eday, one of the Orkney's smaller islands with just 76 properties and a mere population of 129 people.
Phil Boardman, farm manager at Eday for Scottish Sea Farms, explained: “Unless employees live on one of the nearby islands such as Sanday, they face a two-hour commute by boat from Orkney mainland, then have to stay over on one of the islands until their next weekend off, leaving little time for family, food shopping or looking after home and garden.
The result is that we have seen valued employees leave with every crop cycle – they loved the job, just not the logistics that go with it.”
Across the community, the plans to further expand the salmon farm have been welcomed.
Mr Boardman said: “From the architect, Orkney Islands Council planning team and local SEPA office, to the contractors we’re using and our logistics partners Northwards who will help transport the homes to the island, local partnerships have been key to making this project happen. Get it right and this eco-friendly development could be the start of things to come for remote communities such as Eday.”
The firm was keen for the homes to live up to Eday's ecological credentials, as the small island lies at the centre of Orkney’s renewable energy Surf n’ Turf project, which will help the community move away from fossil fuels by converting the surplus power from the European Marine Energy Centre’s tidal test site and the community-owned 900kW wind turbine into hydrogen gas.
Work on the £750,000 development is expected to start immediately, and the firm hopes the new homes will be ready for occupancy in early spring 2020, in time for the next stock of salmon.