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Legal clash on Etive

Bruce Sandison blogs about a group challenging planning permission for a Fish Farm on Loch Etive.


Friends of Loch Etive is campaigning to preserve the scenic beauty and environment of Loch Etive.
Friends of Loch Etive is campaigning to preserve the scenic beauty and environment of Loch Etive.

New accounts published at Companies House show that Dawnfresh Holdings, the parent group of RR Spink, the 300 year-old Arbroath smoked-fish producer and Fishmonger to HM The Queen, show that its losses increased by 13% to £5.9 million in the last financial year. Dawnfresh Farming is the largest trout producer in the UK and the largest supplier of Scottish loch trout in the world with a number of farms throughout the north of Scotland, including at Loch Etive in Argyllshire.

Group chairman, Arthur Salvesen, said, “A robust long-term growth plan has been developed with the aim of significantly increasing turnover in the next three years and earning a reasonable profit.” The group remained financially secure, because of the continued investment of shareholders who supplied £5.5m during the year to finance capital expenditure, help with operating costs and reduce bank borrowings. The pre-tax loss at Dawnfresh Farming was up 71% at £2,256,448 reflecting harvest and growth cycles.

However, as reported last month in this column, a group, Friends of Loch Etive (FoLE) is campaigning to preserve the scenic beauty and environment of Loch Etive and taking Highland Council to Court claiming that a planning decision for a Dawnfresh fish farm is unlawful. FoLE trustee, Keith Macmillan said, “The planning permission was subject to an agreement between the council, the developer and the Crown Estate, which we don’t believe was lawful. The legal advice we have had is that we have a good chance of winning, otherwise we wouldn’t have taken it on.”

However, Mr Alastair Salvesen said, “I think the probability of the planning permission being found unlawful is almost nil. The farm is already fully operational. There is no way we could put the fish anywhere else. Throughout Loch Etive we have five farms with 22 people employed. It would be a real mess if any decision to remove this farm was taken. All government departments and regulators are happy with this farm,” he said.

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