Scottish Sea Farms has been granted approval for a new £3 million salmon farm in Orkney, which will create six new skilled jobs.

The complex, which will be situated just off of Lober Rock and close to St Margaret’s Hope in the Scapa Flow, was given the green light yesterday.

The culmination of several years of research and planning into identifying the optimal farming locations in Orkney waters, the company now has consent to grow 1274 tonnes of salmon and is expected to open the site in 2019.

Consisting of 12 80-metre pens and a 200-tonne barge, it will be managed by a six-strong farm team supported by specialist training and development.

The good news for local employment and skills training doesn’t stop there, however.

Independent economic and development consultancy Imani Development had estimated that every direct job created by Scottish salmon farming indirectly supports up to five further jobs across the supply chain – potentially creating as many as 30 additional jobs.

Richard Darbyshire, Scottish Sea Farms’ regional production manager for Orkney, has called the approval for the plan “hugely positive news”.

He commented: “For the remote communities in which we live and work, the new farm will bring skilled jobs and training, additional business for local suppliers, and a boost to local economies in terms of increased disposable income.

“From a company perspective, the new farm will help us in our drive to meet demand for responsibly farmed salmon – demand that’s rising rapidly not only here in the UK but internationally as the global population continues to grow – and with it, the need for sustainable protein sources.”

Salmon farming is increasingly considered to be one of the most sustainable forms of farming, delivering 61kg of edible meat per 100kg of feed – more than double that for poultry, pork or beef.

It also has the lowest carbon footprints of all the farming sectors, according to the Global Salmon Initiative Sustainability Report 2018.

The new farm at the Lober Rock site will increase the company’s Orkney estate to eight fish farms, after five farms were acquired from Orkney Sea Farms in 2007.

This will be followed by the addition of the award-winning 1909 tonne Wyre farm in 2015 and, most recently, the new 1791 tonne farm at Westerbister in 2016.

The local geography of the island is crucial to the success of fish farms there, according to production manager Darbyshire.

“Orkney’s fast-flowing tidal currents make for a very firm, lean salmon with little fat and lots of flavour, while the lack of wild salmon rivers means that sea lice isn’t an issue.”

He added: “Testament to this, we haven’t administered one treatment for Lepeophtheirus salmonis in 10 years of farming in Orkney waters.”

When combined, Scottish Sea Farms’ Orkney estate will have the capability to grow over 10,000 tonnes of salmon – if measured in live weight – annually.

In addition to large customer base in the UK, the company’s produce is exported to around 20 different countries around the world.