A Highlands and Islands MSP has made a further statement on proposed kelp dredging.
MSP Rhoda Grant stated: "I have met with representatives from both those against and those in favour of kelp harvesting in the last few weeks. I feel it is always important to listen to both sides before making a judgement.
"Up until this point I had seen more information in the public domain coming from those opposed to this application. However, I think it is important that we hear from both sides of this debate and the meeting I was sitting in at last week in the Scottish Parliament had no representatives present from the company wishing to harvest kelp, so we were hearing about an issue from only the one side. For this reason I suggested we call the company representatives in to a similar meeting and hear their arguments. My intention was to then allow the MSPs present to make up their minds with regards the information provided from both sides.
"I have to say that so far I have raised this issue with the Government and Marine Scotland on behalf of constituents who are not in favour of this planning application being approved. I have received responses from the Government and Marine Scotland which I have forwarded to my constituents to keep them up to date.
"Until I have listened to and analysed the evidence from both sides, I have to say I personally am keeping an open mind. I want to ensure I and my colleagues go into the upcoming Bill armed with as much information as possible in order that we can make the best decision for the Highlands and Islands.
"I want to ensure I and my colleagues go into the upcoming Bill armed with as much information as possible in order that we can make the best decision for the Highlands and Islands."
Individuals protesting against the plans have ranged from Ullapool schoolchildren to renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
The campaign protests against MBL’s plan to harvest kelp using a mechanical ‘comb’ which pulls kelp up by the holdfast or root and stem. Until now, sustainable hand harvesting has been restricted to cutting the softer fronds, leaving the stem intact.
Image: proposed areas for kelp dredging.