LARGS and Millport is set to net a jobs boost of almost 25 new posts under an £8m plan to create two new fish farms.

The UK’s largest producer of farmed trout has unveiled plans to create 12 local jobs on the Clyde at sites next to Great and Little Cumbrae.

Dawnfresh, which already employs over 500 people across Scotland, has submitted 'scoping reports' to North Ayrshire Council as the first steps in the planning process.

If consented, the Scottish-owned company would invest £4 million in each of the sites - off the coast of the south eastern side of Great Cumbrae, opposite the Hunterston deepwater port, and on the north west side of Little Cumbrae.

But the move has attracted criticism from environmental group Clyde Porpoise Marine Mammal project.

Around 7,000 tons of trout would be produced per 22.5 month cycle across the two sites.

The farms would create six permanent full-time jobs at each site and establishing the area as a key part of the growing Scottish aquaculture sector.

The applicants say the fish farms would create an additional 12 permanent full-time jobs on service boats.

They state that additional 'downstream jobs' will be created and safeguarded through the supply, servicing and maintenance of the sites.

The sites are part of a plan for four fish farms in and around the Firth of Clyde area for which Dawnfresh is currently seeking permission, with the others earmarked for the south of Ardentinny and off the Island of Bute.

Alison Hutchins, Dawnfresh farming director, said: “Our proposed fish farm sites represent a major investment in North Ayrshire, with the potential to create and support 24 jobs.

"Through meticulous planning and research, the locations of these sites have been selected in keeping with the recent recommendations of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee towards high energy and offshore but they also benefit from being located in and around The Firth of Clyde which has a heritage of production.

"These locations will allow us to protect the health and safety of our fish with minimal impact on the environment.”

Bosses at Dawnfresh say they want to supporting and work with the local community and that they will keep local residents updated on their plans.

Ms Hutchins added: "We are keen to hear from local people so we can answer any questions and take on board any concerns they may have."

But campaigners are far from hooked on the proposal and are set to object.

A spokesman for the Clyde Mammal Marine Project said: "The area around the proposed fish farms have been identified as a hotspot for harbour porpoises, home to Kylie the dolphin and very close to seal haul-out sites.

"The fish farms plan to use acoustic deterrent devices to scare the marine mammals away from their home ranges.

"These devices are used primarily to harass seals but low frequencies will have an acute and harmful effect on our harbour porpoises."