PLANS for one of the UK’s largest salmon farms is being opposed over fears it will harm a popular holiday destination.

The Scottish Salmon Company has lodged plans to build it on the northern tip of the Isle of Arran, North Ayrshire.

Tourism is worth £61million per year to the island with 400,000 people visiting per annum.

The farm, at Millstone Point near the coastal village of Lochranza will be spread over 240 acres equivalent to 135 football pitches, 200 metres off the coast of the island.

It will be more than twice the size of most salmon farms currently in operation consisting of 20 cages capable of producing 5,000 tonnes of salmon a year and is set to create ten full time jobs.

Planning documents submitted to North Ayrshire Council also reveal that SCC applied to install 32 acoustic deterrent devices, which send out high-pitched sound waves to scare off seals that try to break into the salmon cages.

Island residents argue that the farm will damage the environment, claiming that it could damage the area’s outstanding visited by thousands of tourists every year.

They also fear that the farm could generate fish waste in the sea equivalent to a town of up to 66,000 people and use acoustic deterrents to ward off seals which will also scare porpoises and dolphins.

Residents staged a demonstration in the autumn at the site at Millstone Point near Lochranza, a picturesque coastal village, and have installed six three metre-long protest banners around the islands.

More than 243 objections have been received to the controversial plans including a formal objection from Scottish Natural Heritage, the government conservation agency.

Paul Chandler, executive director of Community of Arran Seabed Trust, a local marine conservation charity said: “It’s in a national scenic area, it’s the wrong kind of development in the wrong area. There will be noise impact, visual impact and pollution.”

He added Millstone Point was in north Arran’s national scenic area and visible from the north Arran coastal walk, which attracted thousands of tourists every year stressing that the plans breached the local development plan.

Mr Chandler said the devices also harm legally protected dolphins and porpoises, species that are essential to Arran’s eco-tourism industries.

One resident summarised the concerns in planning documents: “Arran’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism: the proposed salmon farm is totally at odds with the main reason visitors flock to Arran each year.

“What is of much greater concern is the disastrous environmental impact it will undoubtedly have.

“The polluting effects such farms have on surrounding waters (particularly those with open cage pens), the diseases spread from farmed to wild fish stocks, and shocking animal welfare standards, are well documented.

“These concerns are as relevant to Arran as anywhere else in the world.”

A petition set up by resident Russ Cheshire, has attracted more than 7,000 signatures, who said: “The Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament have stated in regard to large-scale open-cage salmon production.

“If the current issues are not addressed this expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment.”

“The Community of Arran Seabed Trust say that the consequences of large numbers of fish deaths, contamination by fish sewage, food waste, chemicals and medicals will be detrimental to the environment, health and economy of the Isle of Arran and its neighbours.

“The proposal by the Scottish Salmon Company for a new and larger site off the north-east coast of Arran will not only spoil the enjoyment of a previously undeveloped part of the island, but also disturb the native wildlife such as otters, seals, porpoises and basking sharks.”

Scottish National Heritage also said the site threatens the migration route of wild Atlantic salmon spawning in the River Endrick, which is legally protected by a special area of conservation, because it will attract parasitical sea lice.

In response to the concerns, a spokesperson for SSC which was recently purchased by Farose Aquaculture giant Bakkafrost, said: “The environment and health of our fish are fundamental and site location is important. Selection is a rigorous process.

“[It] has been carefully designed in such a way to ensure that environmental effects have been minimised through the use of innovative technology and enhanced best practice management measures.

“As such, no significant effects on the natural heritage environment have been identified.”