Dawnfresh at Ardchattan Community Council meeting

here is one article on the meeting last night

and here are some notes on some of the points made throughout the presentation and the question time afterwards

image from Oban Times website .. iconic loch ..

There are 14 full time staff, of which 6 are on temporary contracts.
There are presently vacancies for 3 more posts : Farm technician : Farm manager and Farm administrator.
No new jobs will be formed by this application – the only offer is that the temporary contracts will be made permanent.
New jobs will ONLY happen if there is development in Loch Etive beyond this proposal. (and it is clear that Dawnfresh have definite plans to develop a great deal more.. this is only Stage ONE)

Dawnfresh gave figures of an estimate of their input to the local economy of less than ВЈ1 million a year. Even if these are conservative, this is a surprisingly small contribution to our local sustainability for such a considerable and very real threat to other parts of our economy and environment.

Each of our local festivals, the MOD or the Winter Festival, brings in more than that just a week.
To the immediate area the input was around ВЈ590,000.
This is less than half of what the fishermen alone bring to Loch Etive itself, (ВЈ1.5million a year) and that is with very little investment in to providing better facilities for sailing, kayaking, and other water sports,.. all of which would be seriously compromised by this proposal and the future intentions of Dawnfresh.
The only indications of local involvement were : local divers, a small amount of local haulage (but most of their work goes to companies outside the area), a couple of local engineering companies.
Dawnfresh have 445 jobs in total, but only 14 in the local area.
They have a close relationship with Brander Lodge because they have workers coming in from elsewhere to service their sites.
The only other jobs they could offer were to put some of the existing workers on to a permanent footing.
There are three jobs that have not yet been fulfilled, but are already required so are not directly associated with this plan which would not come into production for another 2 years.

Dawnfresh made the point that this is just the first stage of their development of the Loch Etive Trout brand.
It is a minor interim measure – the reduction to from 14 by 100 foot cages to 10 by 80 foot cages was a significant pinch of the figures, causing serious issues withpotential profitability, and they will be looking to expand again very soon.
It will take 2 years to get young fish out of these cages.. then the company intends to GROW. – In Loch Etive.
They reminded us that Marine Scotland gives a capacity for production of fin fish for Loch Etive as 7500 tonnes.
It was clear that it was Dawnfresh’s aspiration to fill this over the coming years.
This application is NOT a one off, it is the start of a considerably larger development of fin fish farming in the Loch.
This application is 10 cages, to produce another 1500 tonnes.
They stated that they would be upgrading the existing cages to the most modern and efficient models in the coming years, which would give another similar looking development of cages as they are presently producing 1600 tonnes.
However the point was made that the 10 cage (80 foot) development design is far less efficient that the 14 cage (100 foot) design that they proposed originally so it can be expected that Dawnfresh will return to the more efficient design in future proposals.
To fulfill the Fin fish potential of Loch Etive and therefore get the greatest return for Dawnfresh’s investment there will be another 3 equivalent sites to be installed in the loch.
In other words — this development is likely to be the first of FIVE similar or equivalent sites in the loch sited from Bonawe to Connel.

Dawnfresh clearly did not consider the ICZM document to be relevant to them, nor something of any merit. They dismissed it.
The ICZM was brought about by careful and comprehensive consultation deeply rooted in community activity.
This covered the full spectrum of topics – economic – environmental – social – planning – industrial — you name it, it was discussed in considerable detail with a very wide range of expertise to inform and guide. Dawnfresh were a consultee but failed to get actively involved.

The ICZM was created to protect the loch for our community and the generations of to come.. not to become the target of ONE single company who has little value to our local community.

The conclusion of that was toВ Consolidate and rationalise the existing to maximise production —- and it was agreed that there would be aВ Presumption against new aquaculture developments
“to quote :В Potential to accommodate additional marine aquaculture development has not been identified in this policy zone”

It was decided that the the loch is either at or approaching landscape capacity in many places, therefore little capacity for new development has been identified. Although some farm sites are not in use or not currently utilising the maximum amount of equipment (cages, rafts & longlines) that they are consented for, when assessing landscape capacity they have to be treated as if they are developed to their full capacity.
It was further decided that what should happen was that production should be maximized by the rationalisation of existing sites.
The ICZM is only a couple of years old and at its first major confrontation it has been ignored by the planning office and by Dawnfresh.

There have already been two other contraventions of the ICZM in that 2 mussel farm sites have been converted to fin fish.
The Mussel farms may yet be able to come back, once the loch has recovered from the invasion of the Mytilus trossilus. THEY are sustainable, provide a lot more local work, have a better balance of nature of the loch, are low impact visually and audially.

(from other research it might be read that Dawnfresh have a disregard for planning and regulation in general, as there are a variety of reports of their having contravened previous requirements. This does not inspire confidence that they will be compliant to any future guidelines)

view from Glen Salach..- from website of www.blarcreenhouse.com .. a 5 star guest house in direct line of sight.

A number of members of the community raised the issue of noise.
The current fish farming installations already create a background noise that is evident most of the time.
It is very clear that an installation such as proposed is going to create a noise pollution level in a very quiet rural location, where every sound is amplified. It is possible to hear children playing in Taynuilt while walking at Bonawe.
The only reassurance that was given by the councillors was that the level would be monitored and there were guidelines to be enforced.
The experience in the parish shows that the noise enforcement efforts by ABC have failed .. there are issues at the quarry to the present day.
Also the noise would only be monitored at the site, there are no guidelines as what qualifies as being “too noisy” at the ambient level.
Once the site is installed then there is little or nothing that will be possible to “fix” this … the noise would be there to stay.
And again, this is clearly only the first of 5 potential similar sized sites that the loch may have.

The representatives made reassuring noises that there would be little out of normal working hours activity… but the sites that are already in use have lights, generators, noise and so on going on throughout the year. So the reassurances were not very comforting nor gave any confidence.

Dawnfresh are not even providing the businesses in the area with the supplies they require to develop. They cited that they have to spread their risk — but they are still canvassing for customers in Japan, Thailand, and the USA. Sustainability and community support starts Right Here. Dawnfresh are wanting to USE our loch but the gain is not for the local community.
It is clear from the location of the support on the Argyll and Bute planning website that there are far more jobs riding on this development elsewhere than in the Ardchattan or North Lorn area.
Dawnfresh have a smoked fish processing unit – but it is not in Argyll – it is on the East coast..
Dawnfresh stated that their business development is on larger and larger exports of the fish — so increasing the carbon footprint from the area.

Dawnfresh were asked what their Plan B was if they did not get this proposal passed. They do not have one. They fully expect this to go ahead. And this is only their initial stages. We were told this is just their plan for the next couple of years. NO business of this scale thinks in 2 year increments.. they have 20 year plans. The next couple of years is like tomorrow for them. SO .. they clearly see this proposal as the start of a VERY major process of taking over the loch with more and more installations. Once this one is approved, they will see no hindrance to more.

The topic of sealice was discussed, and the brackish nature of the water of Loch Etive creates an environment that protects the fish against sealice. This is one of the significant attractions of the loch to the company. It means that there is little need for treatment, but they are fully licenced to treat as and when the triggers of sealice density on the fish require it. The concerns about the toxicity of these treatments, however infrequent, on the rest of the ecosystem were not considered important by the Dawnfresh representatives. The local concerns were significant, especially considering the unique tidal characteristics of the loch, which do not provide the same sort of dilution effects that other lochs have.
The new nets that will be installed are meant to protect against all losses – they are at far higher tension, as well as being stronger, so as to resist any mechanical damage as well as preventing seals from pushing into them to predate. It was this discussion that indicated clearly that it is Dawnfresh’s intention to replace their existing sites with similar installations to that proposed in this application. They want all their cages to be the most modern and efficient.
The company is not in profit .. they are investing millions in hardware, software, installations and marketing. Each fish lost by illness, predation or whatever takes another 10 to recoup its profit margin. This is a long term investment — for the benefit of Dawnfresh .. but at What Cost to Loch Etive? and to our community around it?

When asked what their Action Plan was if there was a major escape, they had no answer except to say that they were statutorily obliged to notify of it. They made a great deal of their design being one that would preclude any such escape in as far as possible as they simply could not afford to lose fish on that scale.

There were concerns that the increase in fish in the loch would entice more seals. The only part of this Dawnfresh was concerned about was predation, and their new nets would protect against this. However the local and national Fisheries organisations are vehemently against the proposal, one concern being that these seals would then predate on the wild fish.

It was made very clear that the company desperately wants the development, needs this development for the sustainability of the company, they have invested millions in to the brand Loch Etive, and that global exports are their target. There is HUGE demand for the fish grown in the loch. It is a worry that this desperation may lead to pushing the production to limits that the ecology cannot recover from. Already it would seem that production is far more intensive than discussed during the ICZM consultation. At that time they spoke of having cages lying fallow for 3-6 months between each batch of fish. Last night the period of only 6 weeks was given. That is very little time for the sea bed and the surrounding ecosystem to repair any damage done. Damage happens fast in aquatic systems but repairs are very slow.

dawnfresh branding from http://seafooddemand.com/ website

It is plain that the benefit from Loch Etive will go to all sorts of parts of Scotland .. <quote>The Dawnfresh Group process the Loch Etive Salmon Trout product in its modern 3,000 mtrs2 processing facility at Uddingston in the heart of Scotland which is ideally suited to the logistic network required to distribute this product nationally and internationally. http://seafooddemand.com/Guest/Premium.aspx?MemberId=1391<unquote>

There is no ethos of local sustainability or community support in anything that Dawnfresh have published or said. They have not created a Community Fund, in any effort to mitigate the damage they are doing to our local environment, like the wind farms have. They cannot even supply the local processing units with all they require, yet the fish is from the locality. So they are not even interested in supporting development of the local businesses or the local jobs.

Loch Etive is an Iconic loch – around the globe …
Dawnfresh are exploiting this .. but with very little return to the local economy and with considerable threat to its potential in all the other areas of economic development and resilience.
The loch is an area of sublime natural beauty and attracts a wide range of visitors – these come for a day or a week, or to live. Their interests lie in appreciating its clean, quiet, stunning scenery and fascinating environmental bounty… Each of these invest in the local economy, providing sustainable eco friendly work for the community, who, in turn, provide a high quality service. Photographers, walkers, kayakers, natural historians, family historians, fishermen, divers, and so many more.. each of these will think again about coming to a place where the water and the view and the atmosphere is polluted : by chemicals, by structures and by noise.
At the very beginning of the presentation the Dawnfresh representative declared that this development would not go ahead without the communities support. It would be a good idea for them to pack all their plans away today then. From the meeting last night, and the responses to the planning application it is crystal clear that there is very little support from any part of the community for this development. And the idea that this could be only ONE FIFTH of the development in the next 10-20 years will fill our community with horror.

what can you do ?

The last day for submissions to Argyll and Bute Planning is now the 20th August.. whatever your perspective Do Not Miss this .. some people think that Abstaining means you do not care.. if you care .. say so..
You can contact the Dawnfresh representatives directly to discuss any issue you may have
You can contact the Friends of Loch Etive
You should give your point of view to the Planning process – for or against — if you have done this then when this planning application goes to the PublicHearing – which is likely to be sometime in October you can attend the meeting and give your point of view.

August 14, 2013   Posted in: Agriculture, argyll and bute council, Etive

3 Responses

  1. Sandra McNeeley - August 14, 2013

    Attended the meeting at Ardchattan school on 13 Aug 2013. I am not against Scottish produce but feel that Dawnfresh have enough farms on the Loch. I live on Ferry Island and I can hear a drone from the boats at the fishfarm opposite me. I do not think they are taking into consideration the effect it will have on the look of the landscape. How many more and will other fishfarm companies join in. It is a naturally beautiful Loch and many more pens will spoil this landscape for all, especially us who live and work here.

  2. John Campbell - October 28, 2013

    It is a myth that fish farms deter tourists. Visitors coming to Ardchattan are told to look out for the fish farm, and you are there. They drive by and do not see the farm. It is less than 50 yes from the road. The Dawn Fresh proposed site is over half a mile from the same road!. The cages DF use are built right here in the PARISH thus offering job security in Barcaldine too. I am self employed and get a lot of work as do two others on a part time basis and rely on a number of small part bits of work to keep us in work in Ardchattanand in the local area. I am of a family that has been here for many generations, and each has seen changes in the loch through the last two or more centuries of “creeping industrialisation”.

  3. Lora - November 1, 2013

    The company are struggling to fill the jobs they have now. They have been trying for months. That does not suggest that these are Good jobs.
    Brander Lodge is in the paper this week, supporting this application, of course, because they get so much trade from Dawnfresh, as the meeting was told, because the company is bringing in so many people from outside the area. They are not supporting the local people as they should be.
    Another 5 of these massive units will cause harm to this loch and economy.
    The local people who were at the meeting are already disturbed by the noise, so will tourists be.

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