Salmon farmers call

Minister may divert Crown fees to rural homes


Tavish Scott: encouraged

Salmon farmers have welcomed a Scottish Government commitment to consider their call to divert £10million-a-year in licence fees towards tackling a housing crisis in rural Scotland.

Trade body Salmon Scotland launched a campaign last year to overhaul the current system so that the millions sent to Crown Estate Scotland in Edinburgh are instead directly ringfenced for coastal areas where farms operate. This would echo the system in Norway where rents are used to benefit local communities.

Mairi Gougeon, Rural Affairs Secretary, confirmed during a committee session at Holyrood that the government is open to the revenues being used to support housing.

Rhoda Grant, SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands, highlighted how the lack of available, affordable housing is affecting the ability of people to live and work at local salmon farms.

She said young people “are really struggling to a get home” and asked what the government was doing to help them and what work it was doing with the sector

Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton also raised the issue and asked if the government supported Salmon Scotland’s call.

Ms Gougeon pointed to existing agreements with local authority body Cosla, adding: “I of course welcome any suggestions and happy to consider that.”

At present, salmon farming contributes more than £5m directly to Crown Estate Scotland (CES), or more than a fifth of the quango’s revenues, with this fee set to nearly double. Revenue will soar higher because ScotWind offshore licensing fees.

Net CES revenues are currently handed to the Scottish Government and redistributed across the country, but Salmon Scotland believes that a greater share of aquaculture contributions should be ring-fenced to support coastal communities.

A recent independent review of aquaculture regulation in Scotland by Professor Russel Griggs recommended a new single licensing payment for the sector, which he said should “address community benefit as well” – echoing the set-up in Norway.

Scottish salmon generates more than 2,500 jobs across the Highlands and Islands, and the sector plays a key role in attracting people to come and live and work in coastal communities, while also retaining locals to help to tackle de-population.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “The lack of available and affordable housing has been a pressing issue, impacting the ability of people to live and work in these areas.

“We are encouraged by the government’s open-minded approach and their recognition of the need to support coastal communities.”

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