Anger at plan for huge fish farm on wild side of Jura

Plans for a fish farm have been revealed on the Isle of Jura.Plans for a fish farm have been revealed on the Isle of Jura.
Plans for a fish farm have been revealed on the Isle of Jura.

More than 1,000 people have signed a protest against plans to build an industrial-sized fish farm off the unspoilt west coast of Jura.

The proposal is for a 14-pen scheme off the island’s uninhabited western shores, an area prized by locals and visitors for its wildness.

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The plans have been put forward by Kames Fish Farming, the same firm that recently scrapped intentions for a similar scheme on the other side of Jura after major opposition from environmentalists and members of the public.

The scenic island, with its three mountains – the Paps – and a distillery, is popular with visitors.

It has a population of around 200 people and 6,000 deer, as well as rare and important wildlife such as golden eagles.

Its seas are home to creatures including dolphins, porpoises, seals, otters and whales, as well as the famous Corryvreckan whirlpool.

The proposed fish farm, to be sited around 50m from the shoreline, will house up to 2,500 tonnes of salmon or sea trout – around one million fish – in 38m-wide cages.

A 10m-high service barge will be anchored alongside, with helicopters potentially used to bring in supplies.

Concerned locals fear the development will be a blight on the isle’s treasured wild landscape and pose an unacceptable risk to wildlife.

A petition opposing the plans has already gathered more than 1,300 signatures.

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Islander Louise Muir said: “People are concerned about the wilderness aspect.

“Jura, the west coast of Scotland and even Scotland as a whole, probably has one of the least populated coastlines in northern Europe.

“It’s just so wild and remote and people really have very strong emotive connections with that and to have signs of human life there, where you want to go to get away from it all, is not a great idea.”

Gamekeeper Craig Rozga, who has lived on the island all his life, set up the petition.

He said: “It’s so wrong on so many different levels. The location could not be a more exposed stretch of coastline. I can’t see such a structure lasting a winter.”

Campaigners at Friends of the Sound of Jura, which spearheaded protests against the previous application by Kames, say there are myriad environmental reasons the fish farm should not go ahead, including risks to wild salmon and sea trout from escaped farmed fish, deadly parasite infestations and pollution from waste and chemicals.

The Scottish Government has laid out aims to double salmon production by 2030.