Aberdeen Harbour Board says there is a pressing need to consider ways to accommodate expansion of existing facilities at the port.
The harbour is operating close to capacity and lack of available land is hindering its potential and could lead to a decline in operations, according to the board’s directions for growth document.
It says redeveloping the existing harbour to accommodate larger vessels could cause considerable environmental implications.
The report names three locations with the capacity to accommodate new harbour facilities – Nigg Bay, south of the existing harbour; North Beach, to the north of the harbour; and south of Cove Bay, around five miles from the harbour. Nigg Bay has emerged as the preferred direction for growth and the intended new harbour facility.
The board adds: “Nigg Bay appears at this stage to offer the greatest scope to accommodate a new deep-water facility with potential for the lowest environmental and traffic impact.
“Additional survey work and close working with stakeholders will be necessary in order to minimise the potential for environmental impact.
“The facility could be constructed with little to no impact upon the operations of the existing harbour. The opportunities for regeneration of nearby communities and areas such as Torry, Altens and East Tullos are considerable.”
The board says estimated construction costs indicated the Nigg Bay location was the most attractive. And the document says planning permission would be required for new development. It says the location away from the River Dee Special Area of Conservation and slightly removed from the city-centre road network made it less likely to face obstacles at the planning application stage.
The board says the existing road network around Nigg Bay already accommodated heavy goods vehicles, but may require upgrading.
Some harbour traffic could travel via the neighbouring industrial estates and potentially avoid the city centre.
The report adds: “Careful management of some vessel traffic to either port, depending on cargo destination, presented scope to reduce vehicle traffic in the city centre long term. The rail network passes Nigg Bay and could present an opportunity for a new halt and rail link to the new harbour facility. In addition, links to the existing rail freight facilities at Craiginches could also be considered.”
The board says there is the opportunity for the creation of a loop road between a new harbour, the adjacent rail infrastructure and the existing industrial estates at Altens and East Tullos.