Green Head

Current project status

  • Site selection process
  • Pre-application discussions
  • Screening and scoping application
  • Planning application
  • Application determination

Cooke Aquaculture Scotland (CAS) are proposing to create a new Atlantic salmon farm at Green Head, Scapa Flow, Orkney. As part of this proposal, we are taking a holistic approach to reviewing our existing operations in the area.

We currently operate a number of salmon farms within the Scapa Flow area. The new site at the deeper, faster flowing waters of Green Head will facilitate the cease in production of two shallow inshore sites should it be consented. We are also proposing to install two freshwater collection pens at Pegal Bay to assist in the non-medicinal treatment of our fish. Find out more about this project below.

Comments on the proposal are now open to the local community prior to beginning the official planning and consenting process for the development. Send us your comments using the feedback form below. For an overview of how the planning process works, click here.

Application Stage: Pre-application discussions
Consultation Period: 22nd May 2023 to 22nd July 2023
Deadline for comments to be received: 22nd July 2023

The site at Green Head is proposed to be 6 x 120 m circumference salmon pens arranged in a group of 2 x 3 pens. There will also be a feed barge moored to the north of the pen group and the total maximum weight of fish allowed on site is proposed to be 1500 tonnes. Should Green Head be consented, salmon production at the existing sites of Lyrawa Bay and Pegal Bay will cease and all equipment pertaining to salmon production will be removed and recycled.

Freshwater is an important resource for CAS in our non-medicinal treatment of fish. Pegal Burn, adjacent to the Pegal Bay site, is a source of freshwater in Scapa Flow and CAS are proposing to use this as a collection point for treatments should Green Head be consented.

The amalgamation of the two existing sites has a number of benefits for the wider community and environment. The faster flowing, deeper waters at Green Head are considered to have a higher capacity to accommodate finfish aquaculture than the shallower, more quiescent conditions at the existing farms at Lyrawa Bay and Pegal Bay.

Currently, Lyrawa Bay is situated directly adjacent to an important sea trout spawning burn. Consolidating both sites into Green Head would increase the distance between the production site and that area.

There will be a reduction in the total number of pens in the area from 16 to 8 (including 6 at Green Head and 2 freshwater pens at Pegal Bay) and although CAS are proposing a net increase in biomass (700 tonnes), the proposed development strategy will reduce the total number of fish farms within Scapa Flow. This will have beneficial outcomes in terms of broader cumulative impacts including visual amenity and fish health and welfare.

When applying for planning permission for the new Green Head site, it is anticipated that an Environmental Impact Assessment will be required.

Benthic and Water Column Effects

Prior to finalising the project and applying for planning permission, we will conduct extensive baseline surveys of the area surrounding the new site. These surveys include seabed sampling and an ROV survey to see the seabed.

Any potential effects by aquaculture on the benthic environment and water column are regulated by SEPA under Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) and by Marine Scotland. The proposed development of Green Head will require a CAR Licence from SEPA to regulate the maximum weight of fish to be held on site, the scale and rate of nutrient and chemical discharges from the site, and establish statutory monitoring protocols.

Protected Species and Habitats

The Green Head site is located in the Scapa Flow Special Protected Area (SPA) designated for important breeding colonies of diving birds. Wildlife interactions are monitored on a daily basis at the site and reported to NatureScot biannually.

There are five seal haul-out sites within the vicinity of the proposed development. Tensioned cage nets provide the first line of defence against seal attacks. Pen nets are constructed with twine which is strengthened with marine grade stainless steel. These have been proven effective at reducing seal interactions at sites and will be used at the new Green Head site.

The use of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) within the Scottish aquaculture industry is strictly controlled by the Marine Directorate – Licencing Operations Team (MD-LOT). A European Protected Species (EPS) Licence is required before any ADD system can be deployed and permission to use ADDs is also required from the planning authority and NatureScot.

Visual amenity and Noise

Effects on landscape and visual amenity are regulated by the Orkney Islands Council as the planning authority, and NatureScot. A Seascape, Landscape, and Visual Amenity Assessment (SLVIA) will be conducted to assess any change in visual amenity from the development. The effect of noise on the nearest landfall from the development during construction and operation will be assessed.


Cooke Aquaculture Scotland recognise the importance of responsible operations across the business. By setting the foundations of sustainability in our core values, we build up a robust culture of commitment to our common goal of a sustainable business.

CAS have commissioned an independent assessment of our economic impact in the islands. As well as paying salaries to our 122 staff in Orkney; we put money into the economy by investing in our farms and other facilities and spending with local suppliers. On average, we’ve invested an average of almost £3 million of capital a year in new buildings, infrastructure and farms around Orkney – a total of £18.27 million during 2016-2021. That includes investing more than £1.25 million in our Kirkwall packing station and £16.63 million in our farms.

As the only salmon farmer in Orkney to process our fish locally, we employ over 41 people at our processing and packing facility in Kirkwall. That’s in addition to our management and operational jobs on Mainland Orkney.

Approval of the Green Head site will safeguard our operations, and increase spending across the Orkney supply chain, putting money into the local economy.


If you have any questions about the proposed project that have not been answered here or in our FAQ page, you can contact us at and we will endeavour to answer your query as soon as we can.

Please note this is for queries only. Any comments you would like to be considered should be submitted using the feedback form below.

Project Feedback Form
Please use the box below to send us your comments on the proposed project. This is your chance to provide feedback at the pre-application stage. All comments we receive will be used to inform the future progression of the proposed development. It should be noted that any feedback at this stage is for Cooke Aquaculture only.
  1. Do you have any comments on the location or scale of the project?
  2. Do you have any local knowledge of environmental factors we should be considering?
  3. Any other comments
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.