Scottish salmon farmers want licensing fees diverted to build homes

Published on
July 1, 2022
Salmon Scotland Chief Executive Tavish Scott

Approximately half the revenue generated by salmon farming licenses in Scotland – currently some GBP 10 million (USD 12.3 million, EUR 11.6 million) annually – will be reinvested in affordable housing if a new campaign launched by Salmon Scotland is successful.

In a move to help tackle the growing property crisis in rural areas, Salmon Scotland wants the current system overhauled so the millions of pounds sent to Crown Estate Scotland (CES) 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, it advised.

“The farm-raised Scottish salmon sector creates jobs and wealth right across Scotland, but we believe our neighbors – the people who live closest to our salmon farms – should be the ones who benefit the most,” Salmon Scotland Chief Executive Tavish Scott said.

Analysis by Salmon Scotland found that average home prices in areas where salmon farms operate have risen more sharply than the national average, while the average time it takes for local councils to provide housing assistance has soared.

While the farm-raised salmon sector is already one of the largest private-sector employers in many rural parts of north and west Scotland, the shortage of housing is preventing key vacancies from being filled and acting as a drag on the local economies it said.

Scotland’s current licensing regime and planned rent hikes means that more than GBP 20 million (USD 24.6 million, EUR 23.2 million) per year is soon expected to be paid by salmon farmers to various regulators and quangos.

At present, salmon farming contributes more than GBP 5 million (USD 6.1 million, EUR 5.8 million) directly to CES, or more than a fifth of the quango’s revenues, with this fee set to nearly double.

But CES overall revenues are expected to soar from GBP 26 million (USD 31.9 million, EUR 30.2 million) in 2021-22 to GBP 102 million (USD 125.3 million, EUR 118.3 million) in 2022-23 due to ScotWind offshore licensing fees.

Net CES revenues are currently handed to Scottish government and redistributed across the country. 

Photo courtesy of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO)

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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