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The relocation of a Loch Ness fish farm has angered residents

By Val Sweeney

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Dores residents claim new fish farm position spoils view.
Dores residents claim new fish farm position spoils view.

THE owners of a fish farm at an unauthorised location in Loch Ness have been ordered to move it by council officials.

The relocation of the fish farm earlier this summer from a previous site prompted anger among residents in Dores who said it was a blot on the view of the loch.

Highland Council officers agree and have served an enforcement notice on the owner Mowi.

It states the fresh water fish farm has not been moored to comply with planning permission.

It also goes on: “The unauthorised location of surface equipment has greater visual impact upon the Loch Ness and Duntelchaig special landscape area than that approved by planning permission.”

The notice takes effect on September 8 unless an appeal is made beforehand and the time period for compliance is January 31.

The fish farm – which includes cages used for smolts, or young salmon – had been at its previous location for 30 years.

But it was moved 220m earlier this summer to make way for the construction of the £550 million Red John pumped storage hydro scheme which was given the green light by the Scottish Government in June.

Dores and Essich community councillor John Martin said: “There is so much anger in Dores about this. Apart from the sheer brazenness of the company moving it into the middle of vision down the loch, there is disappointment about the decision by Highland Council in giving them until January to move the fish farm back.

“On what grounds is this? Giving them until January to comply is bewildering.”

Mr Martin also described the explanation of it being moved to its unauthorised location because of the Red John project as “a red herring”.

Fellow community councillor Duncan Manson also had concerns that it might take some time to resolve the situation.

“We just have to wait and see,” he said. “That’s all we can do.”

He felt the community council had done everything it could in raising the issue.

“We just hope Mowi would see sense in that the local community is very upset about it,” he added.

Failure to comply with planning permission can be liable to summary conviction and a fine of up to £20,000, or on conviction on indication to an unlimited fine.

The planning authority may also issue a fixed penalty notice for £2000 as an alternative to prosecution. But the requirement to comply remains.

The Red John hydro scheme was given the go-ahead by Scottish ministers following a public local inquiry after Highland Council strongly objected to the plans by developer ILI Group, citing the visual impact on the loch and Great Glen during the construction phase.

Dores and Essich Community Council also objected, highlighting concerns about disruption during construction.

A Mowi spokesman said it is committed to finding a location that suits all stakeholders.

“Mowi will continue to work with the proponent, Red John Hydro, as well as the Dores Community Council and Highland Council to ensure the final positioning of the fish pens satisfies the community prior to the deadline of January 31, 2022,” he added.

A council spokesman said the pens need to be relocated to a new permitted position of their previous position.

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