Permitted development rights for fin fish and shellfish developments: consultation

Consultation on proposed amendments to permitted development rights (PDR) for fin fish and shellfish developments.

9. Considerations Not Taken Forward - For Information and Comment

9.1 Placement of cages greater than 100m or more than one cage

PDR currently allows the addition of a fin fish pen under class 21A. There are several conditions to this class and industry have voiced that there has been very little use of this PDR. Industry have requested that larger and duplicate cages be permitted to be used. We do not intend to take this forward as addition of two cages will almost certainly trigger scoping under EIA. The triggers for EIA screening of a fish farm are:

"(a) the installation resulting from the development is designed to produce more than 10 tonnes of dead fish weight per year;
(b) where the development is situated in marine waters, the development is designed to hold a biomass of 100 tonnes or greater; or
(c) the proposed development will extend to 0.1 hectare or more of the surface area of the marine waters, including any proposed structures or excavations".

This applies to extensions to existing farms as well as new farms. Given that the current PDRs specifically state that there should be no increase in biomass (to avoid triggering (a) or (b)) the main concerns would be an increase in surface area triggering EIA screening under category c. This would be any increase in surface area over 0.1 hectares or 1000 square meters.

The surface area of a 100m cage is 797 square meters so 2 x 100m cages would trigger EIA screening. The Order could be amended to permit addition of one 110m cage which would just fall under the 0.1 hectare limit. The industry have voiced that this retains the same problems as the existing PDR and it is therefore considered that this would not be a useful amendment.

9.2 Cleaner fish

It is common for cleaner fish (wrasse and lumpsuckers) to be held alongside the main production species for the purposes of biological control. Planning permission may be required for holding additional species; this will be dependent on the wording of the initial planning permission. We do not consider amending PD rights will address this uncertainty and will consider providing further guidance in the updated planning circular.

9.3 Class 21D - Temporary Equipment

The Capacity Working Group ( CWG) and other relevant stakeholders were consulted on potential changes to temporary equipment. This included increasing the maximum timescale of placing equipment (currently set at 3 months) and an amendment to allow for one off placement of a long line for spat collection.

We did not receive any evidence of temporary equipment that could be used under this class. For this reason there will be no amendment to timescales under this PDR.

It was also concluded during pre-consultation that PDR for a temporary spat line within the planning boundary of an already existing shellfish farm would not be of use.

Question 18 - Do you have any comments on the above considerations that you would like noted?

9.4 Timescales

As part of normal operations of a farm, equipment will regularly be removed and replaced. During fallow periods, equipment will be removed for maintenance and not be replaced until the farm is stocked again. Depending on the stocking and fallowing plans of the operator, equipment may be out of the water for a period of time ranging from several months to several years. Existing conditions for fish farm PD require that the development is to be carried out within 3 years of obtaining all relevant approvals required under the class ( i.e. following prior notification). In cases where prior notification is not required, it is for the local authority to determine whether the time period equipment is removed for is reasonable for operational purposes. Where operators intend to remove equipment for a longer period of time it is good practice to consult the local authority planning department in advance of any removal operations taking place or as soon as possible afterwards. We do not consider that amending PD rights will address any associated uncertainty.

Removal of all equipment from a fish farm (including sub surface equipment such as moorings) will result in the existing development consent being "spent" and planning permission will be required to place either the same, different or additional equipment in future.

We will consider providing further guidance in the updated circular.


Email: Jill Barber

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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