The Orkney island of Papa Westray lies 42 kilometres across the North Sound from Kirkwall, the capital of the archipelago. Gaze out from the southeast coast of the island, its inhabitants affectionately call Papay, and there’s nothing to see but metal-grey sea, broken only by the dunes of the distant island of Sanday.

Soon, this vista is likely to change. Approval has been granted for a salmon farm three kilometres off East Moclett on that southeast coast. Featuring six circular cages, each 160 metres in circumference, the farm, operated by Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, will cover an area the size of five football pitches. Anyone dreamy enough to come to Papay for the wonderfully elemental views – and many do just that – will soon find a barge capable of holding 600 tonnes of fish feed plonked permanently adjacent to the farm. The farm will be the seventh of its kind in waters around Papay and the proposal, which was approved by Orkney Islands Council last year, has brought to the fore concerns about the impacts of salmon farming in the UK. These range from pollution and the welfare of the salmon to interbreeding with wild fish and visual and physical impacts on the wider natural environment.

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