Aberdeenshire Council is concerned that a £50million redevelopment of Macduff harbour could be overshadowed by a much larger flagship project in Aberdeen.
Last year, a study into the future of the Macduff port facilities was published, and two options are being reviewed.
The first is the creation of a new basin at the cost of £50million. The idea was first proposed in the 1930s, but never materialised.
A cheaper option is to deepen the three existing harbour basins and create a new pier head, at a cost of £15million.
Both options are under consideration after last year’s independent study concluded both the harbour and town would “flourish” as a result of the investment.
But, in a new report to Banff and Buchan councillors, Aberdeenshire Council’s roads and landscape chief Philip McKay has warned the £415million harbour development at Nigg Bay, south of Aberdeen, could impact on demand for harbour space in the region.
He said: “Major port infrastructure is also proposed at Aberdeen harbour’s Nigg Bay development.
“While this development is of a much larger scale than the options outlined for Macduff harbour, such a substantial development is likely to have an impact on level of demand, at all levels.
Mr McKay added: “The impacts of these developments on the wider market for port services would have to form an integral part of any assessment into the potential benefits of further investment at Macduff harbour.”
It is understood that council chiefs see both Macduff upgrade options as “technically feasible”, and a combination of the options is a possibility.
However, a business case would need to be worked up to demonstrate the scheme’s economic viability.
With budgets tight at Woodhill House, it is unlikely the bulk of the work would be paid for from council coffers. Instead the authority could apply for Lottery and European grant funding.
Members of the Banff and Buchan area committee have been asked to authorise a further £25,000 study into the need for development in Macduff.
The councillors are expected to back the proposal when they meet on Tuesday.