Gael Force Fusion Pen Assembly at Barcaldine

10/03/2020

As a responsible local business, we wholeheartedly wish to minimise any impact we have on the environment we work in while maximising socio-economic benefits to the community that our business brings. We employ 40 people in this business, and we thank those hard-working people who continue to support our business in the area, and the many livelihoods dependent on it.

We have been building and launching pens from Barcaldine for many years and as the pens we build are launched into the sea, much like a boat is, we do not require a Marine Licence for this activity. This position has been confirmed by active and constructive engagement with Marine Scotland. Additionally, we have hosted SEPA on-site and showed them the processes we have in place. They were satisfied and will continue to scrutinise these processes periodically and we very much welcome this involvement.

On the matter of marine litter being previously brought to our attention, we have implemented much-improved processes for capturing waste from production, which includes, but are not limited to:

  • Making product design and process changes to eliminate the generation of material cuttings in the first instance.
  • Conducting grinding, cutting and drilling in indoor workshop areas away from the foreshore where-ever possible.
  • Using protective sheets to capture waste and disposing of immediately in receptacles for future recycling of which we maintain documentation records for.
  • Weighing all collected production waste to ensure the collection process is being carried out adequately.
  • Twice daily sweeps of the work area on the foreshore to double-check for waste allowing us to control and monitor the effectiveness of our prevention measures.
  • We conduct regular general post weather event litter picks to remove general marine waste and other detritus emanating from sources outside our own operations.
  • In addition, we have carried out targeted cleanups of some marine litter hot spots around the loch shore supporting a community initiative and we are pleased to continue with our support of these community initiatives.

Our processes are continually kept under review to improve them wherever possible and the video highlights a genuine opportunity for improvement which we appreciate and agree with. The video, taken during severe weather on a working site, appeared to highlight two areas in relation to frayed marine rope and polystyrene storage where it would appear improvements could be made in terms of process.  Additional security ropes had been added to secure pens on the beach in advance of Storm Dennis just, for example, as they will have been to many boats in preparation for bad weather.

We have now changed to an alternative method of securing pens on the working area going forwards, largely removing the normally accepted marine ropes from this function. We are actively reviewing how we store and work with polystyrene cylinders in future to minimise eroded beads reaching the ground. This issue has arisen in part as a consequence of us having asked suppliers to remove secondary plastic packaging from the polystyrene cylinders in an attempt to reduce plastic use. We have immediately commenced a review of both these areas and are putting systems in place to ensure that what is portrayed in the video does not happen again.

While of course, on a working assembly site at any point in time it can be possible to find some related and unacceptable residue materials, what we are seeking to ensure, in difficult conditions, is that any material offcuts are controlled and minimised or eliminated during build and are 100% effectively swept up daily so do not become marine litter. No level of littering is acceptable to us. As such we take this matter extremely seriously and indeed we are also helping out with the general cleanup of the area beyond our own operations and regularly sweep other shores in the loch removing general marine waste.       

Our intent is to move off the beach which is a difficult and constraining environment to work in, subject to planning approval, to a purpose-built facility at St. Columba’s Bay on the now derelict site of the former Sealife Centre. This facility will be designed specifically for the assembly of our pen systems. This will ensure that any debris can be captured and collected more easily and effectively and sent for recycling.