A botched repair job of a north-east harbour is undermining efforts to rally the community around regeneration efforts, a councillor has warned.
Banff Harbour has been partially closed since June, when a section of the quayside crumbled into the sea following freak storms.
Now the major repair operation has run into trouble after a controlled explosion caused another part of the pier to collapse into the water.
Aberdeenshire Council has closed the area until divers can move in to deal with the debris.
The local authority last night apologised for the disruption.
But councillor John Cox said it was becoming hard to convince people to sign up to schemes to encourage development in the area while Banff Harbour remained closed to the public.
He had previously called for a structural survey to be completed on the pier to ensure that it would not continue to disappear.
He said: “If we can’t keep that open during the high of a tourist season, how can we expect people to get involved or sign up to regeneration projects or initiatives?
“Businesses are saying to me: ‘what’s the point?’
“People aren’t willing to invest anymore; it’s breeding complete apathy.
“In other parts of Scotland, doors are open and there’s a can-do attitude. What we’re seeing today is an issue. How can we ask people to attend strategy meetings and get involved in plans or actions when this is what we’re faced with?
“It’s a major tourist attraction that has closed.”
Roger Goodyear, chairman of the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partership, added that harbours like Banff’s had a “hugely important” role to play in bringing people to the region.
“I’m extremely sorry to hear there’s been a further obstacle created there,” he said.
“Harbours are essential to tourism in this part of the world – they’re huge attractions.
“Since Whisky Galore filmed in Portsoy, we’re already seeing an extraordinary increase of people coming to just look around, so it is very concerning to hear about Banff.
“Harbours are also very important to the economic well-being of this area. It really is a case of wishing them God speed in the repairs.”
A council spokeswoman said: “A large piece fell into the shallower area of the harbour.
“They’ve been working today to attach flotation bags to that and hopefully at high tide this evening they will use them to move the piece out of the way.
“If it successful, people will be able to use the harbour as per the restrictions already in place.”
Banff Harbour was constructed in 1625, when rocks were originally cleared from the coastline to open up a haven for vessels.
Boats still fish out of the port on a small scale almost 400 years later but today is primarily used for small pleasure crafts.