The corporation - owned by a Swiss bank and a who's who of Norwegian investors - won the latest skirmish when Argyll & Bute Council dutifully approved a super-sized salmon farm following a public hearing on the Isle of Mull on Monday (5 November).STOP!
The threat of a legal challenge to the "flawed decision" now hangs like a cloud of Amoebic Gill Disease over the Scottish Salmon Company. On Friday (2 November), Roc Sandford's lawyers wrote to Argyll & Bute Council setting out the grounds for a legal challenge.
The letter laid out seven legal objections including:
Read the letter in full online here
"Which law are we governed by?" asked one councillor as the committee discussed the threat of legal action in Europe. "Which law takes precedence - Scottish law or European law?"
"European law takes precedence," replied the Argyll & Bute Council planning officer Richard Kerr who completely ignored his own advice and recommended approval for the salmon farm. "It has been concluded that these impacts are not significant."
In approving the salmon farm, the councillors of Argyll & Bute not only disregarded EU law but they also ignored the views of the local community including everyone on the island of Gometra.
"Normally I would listen to a very small island community," said one councillor before blatantly disregarding their views.
"There's only one policy and that's the council policy to promote aquaculture," said another councillor. "We are a planning authority and we cannot take other things into account."
"You can hardly see the fish farms," said another councillor blind to the ecological impacts of salmon farms under the cages. "I don't see them as a problem," he concluded following a morning site visit to the proposed salmon farm.
The views of over 1,000 people from around the world who signed a petition objecting to the application were dismissed by Argyll & Bute Council who unanimously voted in favour of the proposal and in support of four short-term jobs at the expense of local democracy and long-term environmental costs.
"We don't need more farmed salmon," said Polly Huggett who lives on the island of Gometra. "We don't need to whip nature to increase salmon farming production. I am so shocked and sad at the risks being taken."
"This is an unsafe proposal," said Sophie Baker, another island resident vehemently opposed to the salmon farm. "It will make the waters more hazardous and the journey unsafe," she said raising the spectre of liability issues.
"If you put a salmon farm there you will put our lives in danger and at risk," said Rhoda Munro, who runs a farm on the island of Gometra. "There's going to be one occasion that we cannot get out of it," she warned.
"Everyone on Gometra is against it and you have to consider the community's view," said Gometra resident Liam Ryan. "You will put our lives at risk if the proposal goes through. It would be negligent."
"I don't want a salmon farm off Gometra," said Ian Munro, another island resident who has lived and worked locally for over 30 years. "It would be very dangerous to go into deeper water around the salmon farm."
"This proposal is irresponsible," said Guy Bolton of Tostary Croft on the Isle of Mull. "I appreciate there's jobs but I feel we must look at the bigger picture. We may look back in 10 years time and think 'my goodness, what have we done?'"
"I don't see balance on this island," said wildlife tourist operator Dave Woodhouse who made a passionate plea for local eco-tourism not foreign-owned salmon farms.
"Salmon farming kills seals," said Mark Carter of Marine Concern as he addressed the council.
"Here's the licenses to kill seals around the Isle of Mull," said Mark Carter as he detailed the killing farms.
Watch an interview via “Unnecessary Seal Deaths – Mark Carter Explains”
"Salmon farms spread infectious diseases," said Don Staniford who echoed the concerns of opponents around the world. "It is incumbent upon the council to look at all the mortality, chemical and disease data from Marine Scotland the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. If you adopt due diligence there is only one conclusion: you must refuse this application."
Watch the interview in full via “Don Staniford speaks at public hearing against salmon farms”
Read more in The Scotsman today on infectious diseases and sea lice infestation via “Flesh-eating lice spread by fish farms kill 39 per cent of wild salmon” and “Farmed salmon ravaged with parasitic diseases, campaigners warn”
"This is a time-bomb," said Roc Sandford as he summed up the community's case against the salmon farm. "A disease-ridden salmon farm is not welcome. People all around the world agree that Gometra is the last place on earth to site a salmon farm. We are very sorry to be difficult, but we insist: our community cannot carry the burden of this salmon farm. It will irresponsibly endanger the lives of the islanders, including the lives of the most vulnerable ones. Not one person on the island wants it, the buck stops with you, you cannot fly in the face of an island’s entire community and you must turn it down."
"The controversy over this flawed decision with run and run," said Roc Sandford as he consulted with his lawyers following the council's approval.
“I think we all need to link together, because at the moment we're all getting picked off one by one,” said Roc Sandford in an interview outside the public hearing (5 November).
"We need to start telling the Scottish Government this isn't on," continued Roc Sandford. "People come from all over the world to see this world-class landscape. It's very sad to disrupt that with a salmon farm."
Watch the interview in full online via “Scottish Salmon Farms Bully Island Residents”
"The fight back begins!" screams the Salmon Factory web-site. "When the last wild fish is infected, the last seal shot, the last loch poisoned and the last dolphin displaced, you will discover that you cannot eat factory farmed salmon."
Roc Sandford is certainly winning the PR battle. The Sunday Times reported (4 November) that the salmon farm proposal - opposed by everybody on the Island of Gometra - was in controvention of European law and would endanger lives.
Roc Sandford told The Oban Times (31 October) that the fish farm would "devastate the experience of living on the island" and if it is constructed he would "fight until it is taken away".
Please sign the petition to save the Staffa Archipelago - online here
"Thousands of people come from all over the world to look at this landscape," said Roc Sandford in an interview with the BBC's 'Costing the Earth' show (11 September). "This is the one place in the world you shouldn't put a factory fish farm."
"It's a wild landscape and to have something just popping out of the sea with the sheer size that it is, is just not we want here" says resident Rhoda Munro.
"In my view, if there is anywhere you shouldn’t put a salmon farm, it is in the Staffa Archipelago, the wildlife is important, the landscape is important," said Roc Sandford in an interview with The Scotsman newspaper (17 March 2012). "I think this is an internationally valuable resource and it needs our protection."
The Herald newspaper (26 August) also featured the islanders fight against the Scottish Salmon Company via "Residents of tiny island to fight plan for salmon farm"
Read more via "Stushie for Scottish Salmon!"
This is the latest salvo in 'Scotland's Salmon Wars'. Residents on the Isle of Skye are also up in arms against the Norwegian multinational for failing to consult with the local community. The front page of the local newspaper, the West Highland Free Press (2 November), referred to "overwhelming opposition" at a public meeting in Sleat last week.
"At last Thursday’s meeting in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig 39 of those present opposed the development, with two voting in favour and three abstaining," reported the West Highland Free Press (2 November). "Marine Harvest have lodged plans for a 12-pen site, which they say will create seven new jobs in the area. But residents on the Sleat side of the loch have expressed opposition — largely on environmental grounds — and say they were not consulted on the development."
GAAIA is speaking at another public meeting a public meeting in Armdale, Sleat, on Thursday (8 November) with further public meetings in Ullapool (12), Back (13) and Harris (15) before a public meeting in Ireland in Bantry Bay on 23 November (for full itinerary see online here):
Read more via 'Skyfall for Scottish Salmon'