A community in North Cornwall has come together to express its concerns surrounding the planning application of a coastal seaweed farm.  

Hundreds of residents, visitors, and experts came together this week for an emergency meeting in St Endellion to discuss their objections to plans for a seaweed farm off the coast of Port Quin.  

The meeting comes off the back of community concern after two companies – Biome Algae and Camel Fish – launched applications for farms spanning around 100 hectares combined in Lundy Bay – as it is known locally.  

Biome Algae is a marine company which farms seaweed for a variety of uses. Harvesting seaweed, the company then use the crop to produce a variety of products, including biofeed and fertilisers, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, food and health supplements, and plastic alternatives.   

The company was faced with heavy opposition when it submitted an application for a similar site at Gerrans Bay off the coast of the Roseland Peninsula, before Christmas. The proposal saw two sites spanning 55 hectares each, however, following a community campaign the application was withdrawn.  

Now the company, alongside Camel Fish Limited, have filed two new applications for a similar site off the coast of Port Quin, between Polzeath and Port Isaac.   

However, since the application was submitted, the company has faced heavy backlash from the local community, prompting the creation of the ‘Save Port Quin’ Facebook group, as well as a peaceful protest at the site.  

Most recently, Trevathan Farm Shop was host to a ‘Cake and Truth’ event, organised by the Save Port Quin campaign team.  

The event saw hundreds of concerned residents turn out to hear each other’s thoughts on the plans. It was prompted after a meeting, called by the applicants on February 27 ‘descended into chaos’. The meeting left many angry and frustrated, with more than 100 people left outside due to the size of the venue chosen.

However, Friday’s meeting (March 4), held at Trevathan Farm Shop in St Endellion, was planned to provide a relaxed atmosphere so people felt comfortable to present. 

Branded as a “Cake and Truth” event, organisers held a special ‘Objection Clinic’ before the start of the formal meeting. This paired members of the community who were not confident using computers with “Objection Nerds” who were able to help them with the technology required to access and complete the online comment forms required by the MMO.  

Following these sessions, the floor was opened by Barnaby Kay, one of the campaign’s founders, for community members to come forward and present some of their concerns, observations, and questions.

Among those who presented was Adrian Langdon, local photographer and wildlife enthusiast. During this, he raised questions of how the introduction of the seaweed farm might disrupt wildlife. 

He said: “I take part in seal surveys, and I have done so for the last eleven years. I was out in Port Quin Bay on Tuesday and saw common dolphin, but for me more importantly, is the bird life. On Tuesday morning, I counted 578 guillemots on ledges and probably a further 200 or 300 circling.  

“Guillemots only have one egg, if you disturb them off their ledges during breeding season, they fly off and their eggs go with them, and that’s the breeding for that bird, that year gone. Occasionally if it’s early in the season they may lay another egg, but mostly they’re not going to. If that happens, that’s them gone for the whole season.” 

Also presenting, was Mike Kent, an independent researcher, who is working with Exeter University alongside the Marine Biological Association. 

Mike said: “I know what data is valuable, and those observations made by Adrian are valuable, and they will be regarded as data by the MMO as he has substantiated date with photographs behind it.”  

He went on to explain the bigger picture which surrounds this planning case and criticised the lack of public engagement from the applicants. 

He said: “I am appalled that they [the applicant] haven’t involved the residents and public as stakeholders. This is not just about Port Quin Bay, this is about making sure the MMO get their act together. It is about making sure that a proposal like this is never happened again because the process is wrong.” 

Following the meeting, Barnaby Kay said: “We very much support the principle of seaweed farming but it is vital that sites are in the right place. The Port Quin proposal is definitely not the right site. It is a very special place which is teeming with bird and marine life which would be catastrophically affected by these plans. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has joined our campaign. We are asking people to make sure that they submit their views to the MMO by March 14.”