The controversy surrounding a Moray harbour damaged in storms last winter took a new twist this week when the Crown Estate renewed an offer to sell the site to the local community for £1.
Members of the Portgordon Harbour Group expressed their disappointment when they were ordered by the Crown Estate to remove boats from the harbour by the end of next month to allow repairs to be carried out.
They complained that not enough time had been given and with berths at other harbours hard to come by and expensive they faced great difficulties in relocating their vessels. In addition it was unclear if they would ever be able to return to Portgordon after repairs to the harbour wall had been completed.
Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, entered into the debate, undertaking to write to the Crown Estate asking that they show more concern for the plight of the harbour users.
Now the Crown Estate have said that they will renew an offer to sell the harbour to the community for just £1 – an offer the harbour group are now considering.
Chairman of the group, Lee Brown, said: “We want to make a business plan for the future of the harbour with things like dolphin-watching.
“There is a lot of life left in the village yet and if the harbour is shut down I don’t know what will happen. The group needs to look at what funding is available and think long and hard about what we are going to do.
“What we really want is for the boats to be allowed back into the harbour while we continue to work closely with the Crown Estate.”
[box] “The Crown Estate shares the community’s concerns about the issue and have worked with the Portgordon Community Harbour Group for several years to explore possible options.”[/box] The Crown Estate say that it will cost between £300,000 and £400,000 to repair the harbour and had commissioned work to begin in October. Now they have also clarified the situation after repairs have been carried out by saying that they will then come back to boat owners with a way for them to stay on at Portgordon.
That would, they say, include them renewing an offer made in 2008 and 2011 for the transfer of ownership for £1.
The Crown Estate’s Alan Laidlaw said: “The Crown Estate shares the community’s concerns about the issue and have worked with the Portgordon Community Harbour Group for several years to explore possible options.
“This includes an offer issued in 2008, reiterated in 2011 and again this week to transfer the harbour to their ownership. We will continue to work with local users to find a long-term and sustainable solution.”
Mr Laidlaw pointed out that the harbour had been closed by Act of Parliament in 1947 and the recent Notice to Mariners to quit the harbour had been issued earlier this year. He added: “This is not a new measure but a renewed attempt to protect the safety of users.”