MORAY’S COUNCIL-OWNED harbours could become self-funding if plans being put to Councillors next week go ahead.
Currently the six harbours owned and operated by the local authority incur an annual loss of around £135,000, with expenditure in the current year expected to be in the region of £580,000 offset by income of around £446,000.
Council officials believe, however, that Buckie, Burghead, Hopeman, Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen harbours can close the funding gap by the introduction of a business plan for each – identifying income options and maximising the opportunities that exist in each location.
A paper is being put to the economic development and infrastructure services committee that says the purpose will be to identify how each harbour can be made financially self-sustaining inside five years.
The move could mean an increase in charges for harbour users, however, as the report says that fees and charges will require to be looked at as part of the process – and the review will including benchmarking of fees against comparable harbours elsewhere.
Acknowledging that Moray’s harbours have an important role to play in the economic life of the region, the report points out their roles in the remaining fishing industry and movement of cargo for the whisky, forestry and renewables industries, as well as providing support for leisure activities and tourism.
Local harbour advisory committees will be involved from the outset in the development of any proposals.