Skye fish farm denied approval

Skye fish farmed denied approval

26th January 2021

The UK’s first independent salmon farming start-up in 30 years has not been given permission for a third fish-farm site. 

Highland Council denied the request at a North Planning Application Committee (NPAC) meeting today (Tuesday 26 January 2021.)

Organic Sea Harvest (OSH) currently operate sites at the North-East of Skye, in Culnacnoc and Invertote. 

The company had requested planning permission from Highland Council for a third site at Balmaqueen.  The site would have released investments at £4 million, earmarked for salaries, equipment and stock.  Consisting of 12 120-meter cages, this latest venture would have provided direct, full-time employment for seven farm employees and two boat workers, taking the direct work force to 21 full-time employees.

OSH has its main office base in Staffin, servicing their nearby fish farm sites from the Staffin slipway and working closely with community organisation, the Staffin Community Trust (SCT).  SCT is progressing the upgrade and redevelopment of its harbour, the Staffin slipway, for local users, marine tourism, fishing and aquaculture boats.

The SCT board of directors commented: We welcome the 12 full-time jobs recently created at Invertote and Culnacnoc, which is a significant boost to North Skye’s economy, particularly in the midst of the pandemic.  SCT is also pleased at OSH’s commitment in Staffin in holding accounts with both local shops, renting office space and accommodation.

We are currently working in a positive manner with OSH and moving towards a financial agreement via a Community Benefit, which will help deliver the Slipway redevelopment, while retaining and creating new jobs.

The Balmaqueen site could have ensured that OSH will be able to serve its local, as well as global, customers year-round.  This would have strengthened the possibility of building a strong brand and could have opened the opportunity to expand further into secondary processing on the Isle of Skye. 

Speaking after the application was refused, local councillor, John Gordon, commented: I was supportive of the proposals as they would have brought financial benefit to our area.  We’ve been through a tough year as a result of Covid-19 and jobs are key in our economic recovery - these farms would have created a number of good jobs and would create advantages for our area.

OSH spokesperson and Founding Director, Alex MacInnes, commented: We are disappointed that the Highland Council have not granted approval for our Balmaqueen site plans.  At OSH, we are committed to farming organically, creating a world-class product for a worldwide market and investing in the local community.  This would have been a fantastic opportunity for us to support our local community as we continue our mission of becoming the world’s leading organic salmon farmer. 

We are very much looking forward to bringing Scottish organic salmon from Skye to the market in the very near future.  We appreciate the trust the local community have given us for our two existing sites and we will continue to work hard to show them that was the right decision.  Although we are disappointed our Balmaqueen plans were refused, we will now consider closely whether we want to seek a review of the decision though the Local Review Body or appeal to the Scottish Ministers.



    1. OSH was officially incorporated in August 2015. 

    2. The first harvest for the market is expected in Spring 2021. 

    3. OSH currently employ 12 full-time staff members at two Skye sea sites, Culnacnoc and Invertote, and seven others attached to administrative functions.  OSH also have partnerships with 31 Skye businesses. 

    4. So far, OSH have invested more than £13 million in the local economy. 

    5. The motion ‘against’ the application was proposed by Skye councillor, Calum MacLeod, with the amendment voting ‘for’ the application proposed by Skye councillor, John Gordon.  A second motion against the application proposed by Councillor Raymond Bremner was dropped in favour of Councillor MacLeod’s motion. The motion ‘against’ was carried by eight votes to six.

    6. Two founding members of OSH, Alister Mackinnon and Alex MacInnes, are Highland Council councillors for the Dingwall & Seaforth and Wester Ross, Strathpeffer & Lochalsh wards respectively. 

    7. For further information, please contact:

      Robert John MacInnes - OSH Communications Advisor - 

      Alex MacInnes - OSH spokesperson and Founding Director – – 07817167223. 

      Release written by Roz Macaskill – – 01478 612700