Aquaculture is the culture of aquatic animals and plants in fresh, brackish or marine water environments. Marine aquaculture in Argyll and Bute involves growing finfish (normally salmon or rainbow trout) in cages or pens and growing shellfish on the seabed, trestles, suspended on ropes or nets (mussels, scallops and oysters). 

Planning permission is required for all new aquaculture developments, change of use of and alterations to existing approved sites.

New aquaculture sites and modifications to existing aquaculture developments require planning consent from Argyll and Bute Council under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Marine Fish Farming (Scotland) Order 2007. It applies to the placement of equipment in the sea, on the seabed or on the foreshore below MWHS out to 12 nautical miles. There are three types of application that can be made:  

  1. New site – this will involve a proposal for a new previously undeveloped site or if it is proposed to change from Shellfish to Finfish or vice versa.
  2. Change of use – should be made when the proposals involve a change in the species that will be farmed on site, i.e. Salmon to Cod.
  3. Alterations to an existing approved site – this may involve a change to the overall size of the site and/or the equipment used on an existing site.  

Pre-application discussion 

Prospective developers are advised to discuss their proposals with the Major Applications Team (see contact details below) as early as possible in the process of preparing a planning application. For finfish development, planning officers will be able to identify whether the proposal can proceed directly to formal planning application, or whether the developer should proceed to non-statutory but structured EIA pre-application consultation.

Major Applications Team
Development and Infrastructure Services
1A Manse Brae, Lochgilphead, PA31 8RD 

Tel: 01546 6004840

Relevant planning policy 

Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan

The Council formally adopted the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan on 26th March 2015, which provides the local planning framework for the Council area, excluding the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park area.  

Supplementary Planning Guidance - Aquaculture Development (SG AQUA1)

This Supplementary Guidance was adopted in December 2016.  All proposals for new aquaculture developments or amendments to existing marine and fresh water farming sites will be assessed against SG AQUA1, which provides detailed guidance for developers and regulators to help guide development to the most appropriate areas by taking account of other activities and environmental sensitivities and assist in decision making for individual proposals.

Marine Plans 

In determining planning applications for marine aquaculture the Council must have regard to the National Marine Plan and subsequent Regional Marine Spatial Plans in so far as they impact within the inter‐tidal zone and on the wider coastal zone.

Planning application forms and guidance  

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)    

Most finfish developments will require to be screened as to whether EIA is necessary.  Developers should use the following EIA guidance and templates for screening and scoping purposes.

Further information

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