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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Factory revives seaweed tradition
Seaweed has been found to have beneficial uses
A new factory to supply seaweed products all over the world is on the verge of opening in Stornoway on Lewis.

The Hebridean Seaweed Company is reviving one of Scotland's traditional industries of harvesting the plant.

The factory at the former oil yard at Arnish will take raw seaweed from the shores of the island and is the only one its kind in the UK.

Seaweed will be turned into a form suitable for animal feed and pharmaceuticals.

Beef burgers

It is understood the seaweed will be sent to an agent on the mainland for distribution to markets, including the Middle East.

Stornoway Port Authority Board approved an application by the company in January to cut and extract seaweed within the limits of Stornoway Harbour subject to certain conditions.

Board members were told the processing plant and factory would provide employment for eight to nine people.

The bulk of the harvested seaweed for processing will come from the coastline of Lewis and Harris.

In approving the application, the board noted that the company had consulted extensively with other environmental and heritage agencies and had the necessary statutory consents in place.

Silver mines

Scientists have discovered uses for seaweed in everything from making beef burgers healthier to filtering out pollution from water.

Newcastle University researchers found adding a tasteless seaweed extract, called alginate, would increase the fibre content of pies, burgers and cakes.

The research was published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition last year.

A water tank containing a seaweed filter also prevented old lead and silver mines from polluting a river near Aberystwyth, Wales.

Early results from a trial of the new system revealed that toxic materials were no longer entering the River Clarach.

Up to a kilo of zinc a day was being extracted in the 1.4m project.

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