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Hopes dashed in bid to create £20million Stonehaven marina

Hopes dashed in bid to create £20million Stonehaven marina

Hopes to build a marina in Stonehaven have been dashed after a study revealed it could cost up to £20million – and actually reduce the number of boats coming into port.

Stonehaven Town Partnership had mooted the idea of creating a marina at the iconic harbour as a way of bringing in tourists and boosting the local economy.

The group, at the request of Aberdeenshire Council, secured £22,500 of funding for a feasibility study looking at ways to safeguard the future of the harbour.

But at a stakeholders meeting, it emerged that project coordinators PJ Consulting and Associates had advised against the idea – due to the huge cost of the project.

They also highlight the poor state of the harbour walls and piers, and suggest the more immediate focus should be on building a new outer breakwater to protect from storms.

The report estimates it would cost between £10million-£20million to create a marina, which could only be done once the repairs had been done and a new breakwater built, which could take between two-and-half to five years.

It states: “A realistic outline of potential operational capacity within Stonehaven Harbour, allowing for all salient factors – including weather, tide and wind conditions – suggests a limit of 45 pontoon berths for the inner basin and 35 to a maximum of 40 in the middle basin, depending upon scale of development and sizes of craft catered for.

“This would be a reduction in capacity from the current berthing levels, with consequent reduction to annual berthing income.”

There are currently nearly 140 regular moorings fully occupied at the harbour, and a waiting list for vacancies.

The document adds: “The limits of berth numbers, imposed by the topographical limits of the harbour suggest that fees derived from such a development would not cover annual operating costs, without pricing them ‘out of the market’.

“The challenges presented by all of the factors impacting on Stonehaven Harbour effectively preclude any realistic hope of developing a marina within its environs.”

The consultants instead identify building a new outer breakwater as an “ideal solution”, as it would provide weather and flood protection, while also increasing berthing capacity, but accept its “probably impracticality” due to cost.

They also recommend against “doing nothing” about the repairs, which could cost £50,000-£100,000 to fix, or £1million-£5million if the outer breakwater was destroyed in bad weather.

Stalemate

The regeneration of Stonehaven harbour has reached a “disappointing” stalemate, the man leading the project said.

Stonehaven Town Partnership trustee Wynne Edwards said the group had been hoping stakeholders would help determine the “next steps” after discussing the feasibility study at last week’s meeting.

Although the marina proposal was panned by the consultants, other ideas such as extending the Tollbooth Museum, and relocating the Stonehaven Sea Cadets to the waterfront, were praised.

The team also suggested looking into repairs and building a new outer breakwater to safeguard the harbour from the elements.

Mr Edwards, chairman of the Stonehaven harbour development feasibility steering group, said last night: “The report identified potentials best for what is possible for the harbour. It highlights that marina is not viable but also highlights the issues with the standards and future of the harbour.

“We were hoping that this meeting would form the vehicle for taking the process forward.

“Unfortunately there were no appetite from within the group of stakeholders to be involved in any way, which is disappointing.

“What happens next, I don’t know, unless someone is prepared to come forward and take responsibility and take this on.

“I certainly think the reliance on Aberdeenshire Council to fulfil the needs of the harbour is unrealistic given the current financial climate. The mood of the meeting was that it is the requirement of the council to maintain the harbour.

“It’s very disappointing and a very short-sighted response.”

But last night Phil Mills-Bishop, vice-chairman of Stonehaven Community Council, said he was still hopeful the harbour could be sensitively regenerated – perhaps with a research unit and a marine academy, teaching unemployed youths traditional seafaring skills.

He added: “We want to keep it a working harbour, a draw for tourists. If you start doing too much building and make it too commercial, it will kill it and we want to keep it picturesque, and ensure those traditional skills are not totally lost.”

Aberdeenshire Council said the feasibility report would be considered in detail.

Head of roads and landscape services Philip McKay said: “Aberdeenshire Council was happy to part fund the initial study and will continue to work with the appropriate community groups in determining how the area can be improved with the money available.”

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