Fuel levy could provide answer to Moray’s harbour deficit

Gordon McDonald – levy would have ‘major influence’ on harbours

FUEL LEVIES APPLIED to boats visiting Buckie Harbour could go some way in addressing annual loss Moray Council faces in operating their ports.

The six harbours owned by the local authority have posted a collective loss of £135,000 – prompting proposals on how that can be addressed.

Today members of a council committee will consider one option, that a new charge be placed at their busiest commercial port, Buckie Harbour, for fuel transfers. If accepted, officials believe that would bring in as much as £100,000 a year.

In a report before the policy and resources committee, the Development and Operations Manager for Harbours urges councillors to follow the lead of Aberdeen and Scrabster harbours in applying a ‘per tonne’ levy on fuel transfers at Buckie.

“It is proposed that the fuel transfer charge at Buckie Harbour should be set at £2.00 per tonne for the remainder of the financial year 2015/16, effective from 1st December,” the report recommends, adding: “As an indicative price this has been discussed with the potential customer and no objection has been received.”

Buckie Harbour currently generates £300,000 in annual income – and the levy would increase that by 33%, the report states.

The idea is being Buckie SNP councillor Gordon McDonald, who said if the scheme is as successful as officers believe then it would have a “major influence” on the annual harbour deficit.

He said: “This could almost wipe out all the debt for all the harbours in Moray, and that would be an amazing achievement.”

It is hoped that if agreed the new levy would allow all six Council-owned ports – Findochty, Burghead, Hopeman, Portknockie, Cullen and Buckie – to become self-funding inside the next five years.