We spent the initial years investing in bringing the farm up to the same high standards as our other farms: infrastructure, equipment, staffing, health and safety, training and development.

The subsequent return on this investment has been several successful generations of fish.

Over the last three alone, Shapinsay has achieved:

  • 93% average end of crop survival
  • 7kg average weight at harvest
  • 93% of all fish harvested graded ‘Superior’.

Under the care of the same long-serving Farm Manager for several years now, Shapinsay has also proven a rich pipeline for talented husbandry staff, with many advancing to senior roles at other farms across our Orkney estate.

Proposed reconfiguration and expansion

Now, we’re proposing to reconfigure and expand the existing farm footprint, layout and infrastructure.

Part of a wider drive to consolidate our estate into a smaller number of farms offering the best growing conditions, this would enable us to:

  • Increase the space between pens
  • Maximise water exchange and oxygen levels in and around pens
  • Improve operational efficiencies
  • Boost fish health, welfare and survival
  • Grow our harvest volumes.


Interested in learning more about our proposals but weren’t able to make it along to our rearranged community consultation event on Wednesday 25 October 2023 at Shapinsay Community School?

You can read about the proposed changes in the sub-sections below.

Have a question not answered here? Simply email development@scottishseafarms.com and one of the team will be in touch.


Once an application for Planning Permission, a Marine Licence or SEPA CAR licence has been submitted and advertised, there’s still the opportunity to review it and comment to the relevant regulator.

(Please note that any comments made to Scottish Sea Farms at pre-application stage do not replace the statutory application process, at which point comments should be made directly to the relevant regulator.)

Currently, our Shapinsay farm consists of 12 x 100m circumference salmon pens, arranged neatly within a 50m mooring grid.

Each pen is equipped with predator deterrent netting systems to help keep our salmon safely separate from other marine life.

Above the water, each pen has ‘hamster wheel’ supported top nets to deter sea birds.

Also on-farm is a 96-tonne capacity barge which is home to camera-controlled feeding systems and a feed store, along with office and welfare facilities for the farm team.

Proposed changes

Detailed hydrodynamic modelling has shown that the local marine environment has the capacity – based on water depth and current speed, amongst other key factors – to sustainably support the growth of more fish and, in turn, enable us to produce more nutritious meals.

Achieving it would require us to:

  • Reconfigure the farm’s footprint slightly northwards of its current position, taking advantage of deeper waters and stronger currents
  • Expand the farm infrastructure to 12 x 140m salmon pens, supported by a 100m mooring grid, giving rise to a new maximum biomass of 2,500 tonnes and equating to an increase in surface area of 9,934m2.

As with the existing farm, each individual pen would continue to be stocked to RSPCA Assured densities of just 1.5% fish to 98.5% water and be equipped with predator deterrent netting systems, with the additional protection of a new pole-mounted top net system.

Supporting these pens would be a new 300-tonne capacity feed barge.

The proposed development will be equipped with the latest farm infrastructure:

Indicative pen and top net arrangement
Indicative top net detail

The new 300-tonne capacity barge will be similarly modern, with the interior fit-out offering the farm team an enhanced working environment and the exterior featuring a boat-like design to help it blend into the local seascape.

Indicative feed barge

Shore base

The farm would continue to be serviced from our existing shore base at Kirkwall pier, with no anticipated changes to the route or frequency of workboat journeys as a result of the proposed changes.

Vessel transit route

Our first step, when seeking to establish any potential visual impacts of a proposed development, is to carry out a Zone of Theoretical Visibility exercise (or ZTV for short).

This is a computer-generated image that identifies the theoretical extent of the visibility of a development and can be compared with a 3D terrain model.

In the case of our Shapinsay proposal, the following key viewpoints were included:

  • B9058 by Newfield, Shapinsay (351300, 1018100)
  • B9058 Lingro Crossroads, Shapinsay (352900, 1020300)
  • Beach near Ness, Shapinsay (353500, 1022400)
  • Ling Holm, Shapinsay (350300, 1019400)
  • Footpath near Parkhall Farm, Shapinsay (349400, 1018800)
  • Ferry route Kirkwall to Sanday/Eday and Stronsay (350500, 1023500)

Careful analysis

Preliminary analysis of the visual impact of the existing farm layout versus the proposed farm layout found no significant degree of change.

Next steps

Our next step will be to generate computer-aided visualisations of the proposed development to help inform an assessment of any potential impact on the surrounding seascape and landscape.

This assessment will then be shared within any planning application.

As with many of Scotland’s coastal communities, salmon farming is a key employer in Orkney.

Direct jobs

Our Shapinsay farm supports up to six roles directly and helps support many more across the company: from fish health specialists, vets and environmental scientists to workboat crew, engineers and Health & Safety.

The proposed development of Shapinsay will help secure these jobs for the longer-term.

Indirect jobs

Costing upwards of £3M, the installation and ongoing maintenance of the farm will also support jobs across the supply chain: from engineering, haulage, and diver and vessel hire to the manufacture of equipment and feed, and local travel and accommodation.

Direct and indirect jobs combined, this creates onward spend for businesses and services in the surrounding area.

National benefits and beyond

Scottish farmed salmon is consistently one of the most valuable food exports, both in Scotland and in the UK.

Proposed farm developments such as this, aimed at enhancing fish health, welfare and survival, will further add to the volumes available for sale, helping to better meet the needs of a growing population.

If you have a question related to our development proposals that’s not addressed here, you can use the ‘Find out more’ page.

Alternatively, you can email Scottish Sea Farms’ Developments team directly at development@scottishseafarms.com