Moray Council has moved to obtain a new dredger at a cost of around £2.4million with Macduff Shipyards awarded the contract.
The local authority sold their former dredger, the Shearwater, over two years ago.
A new vessel will be built at Macduff Shipyards’ fabrication facility at Buckie, acquired by the company last year when the previous owners entered administration.
When completed next year the dredger will service the Council-owned harbours at Buckie, Burghead, Hopeman, Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen. It will also be made available for hire.
John Watt, managing director of Macduff Shipyards, said: “This is a fantastic contract for us which will consolidate our position at the Buckie fabrication facility and provide continuity of employment in the coming year with an increased workforce.”
Councillor John Cowe, chairman of the economic development and infrastructure services committee, welcomed the awarding of the new vessel, saying: “Our harbours are one of Moray’s biggest commercial assets and it is obviously important that we keep them accessible to shipping and to the ever increasing number of pleasure craft.
“The new dredger represents a significant investment for the council and underlines our commitment to Buckie harbour in particular and to the increasing role which we hope it will play in future economic development in Moray.”
When Moray Council disposed of the Shearwater it was described as a “liability” by then leader of the council, Allan Wright. The vessel was sold to a Rosyth-based company specialising in workboats.
Moray Council has been one of just a few local authorities who operated their own dredger.