Call to Back Local Council Aquaculture Planning Powers

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
5 February 2010, at 12:00am

SCOTLAND - The Highland Council has written to Scottish MSPs seeking their support for the retention of aquaculture planning powers by local authorities.

An amendment was due to be put forward at Stage 3 of the Marine (Scotland) Bill on Thursday, seeking to have aquaculture planning included within the remit of Marine Scotland.

The Council is concerned that this could mean that local authorities could then be delegated the role upon request to Marine Scotland. Its sees no need for the amendment and firmly believes that aquaculture planning powers should remain within the remit of local authorities, via the existing Town and Country Planning Acts.

Councillor Michael Foxley, Leader of the Council’s Administration, said local authorities, led by The Highland Council, campaigned for 20 years to ensure local democratic controls over fish farm development were put in place.

He said: “At the time there was cross party support for this, based on broad recognition of persistent failure to involve local communities in the fish farm development process.”

Earlier Marine Bill consultations made the case very well for the retention of local authority controls over aquaculture. They set out the following benefits:

  • Retention of local democratic control
  • Retention of policy and management linkage between on land and coastal development – straddling development
  • Recognition of the impacts on local communities that aquaculture development can have and the important of community views
  • Decision making would remain the responsibility of locally accountable councillors
  • Local authorities already have responsibility and experience of aquaculture planning and of coastal protection and flood prevention

Councillor Foxley added: “Responses to the Marine Bill consultation did not support the removal of local authority planning controls. Rather they supported and recognised the overall national policy role of Marine Scotland and the need for local implementation.

In addition, local authorities have made significant headway towards streamlining the aquaculture planning process via their contribution to the Government’s Aquaculture Planning Task Force. This is a process which is being undertaken in partnership with the aquaculture industry and of which fish farmers are fully supportive. For these reasons I urge MSPs to vote against any amendments that would remove fish farming developments from local authority control.”