A backlog of maintenance at harbours across the north-east will continue to be a top priority for Aberdeenshire Council.
A report for this Thursday’s meeting of the infrastructure services committee recognises the importance of the seven council-operated sites at Macduff, Banff, Stonehaven, Portsoy, Rosehearty, Gourdon and Johnshaven.
But officers warn that without an increase in budgets the harbour service will only be able to maintain the sites as they are and will not be able to make any additional improvements.
At Macduff, the authority’s only commercial harbour, officers say “uncertainty” about the future direction of the fishing industry means that new uses for the harbour should be explored.
“Efforts need to be made to find alternative or new uses for the harbour, which can ensure that the related industries and valuable sources of employment and economic wellbeing for the community are preserved, said the report author Stephen Archer, director of infrastructure services at Aberdeenshire Council.
“In particular, new business opportunities linked to, for example, the offshore windfarm and vessel supply industries need to be explored.” in partnership with the various stakeholders.
“Significant capital investment may be required to support such initiatives in the harbour.”
The feasibility of a marina at Stonehaven, where there is a significant waiting list for berths, is currently being explored by the Stonehaven Town Partnership.
Officers estimate the cost of the venture, based on work carried out to construct a marina at Banff, to be between £5million and £7million.
The report highlights Stonehaven and Banff harbours as having the greatest potential for tourism and promotion of the surrounding areas.
The anticipated income from all harbours for 2014-15 is £462,000 and the budget is set at £484,000 meaning a possible £946,000 of expenditure is available.
“It must also be recognised that there is a backlog of maintenance work required on all the harbours and appropriate infrastructure asset management principles must continue to be applied to ensure that the fabric of the structures are maintained to the best possible condition,” Archer added.
“This work will continue to be the harbour service’s top priority and the primary call on the finances available.
“Further development and improvement can only realistically go ahead if additional funding is found or income generated.”