Calls have been made to ensure the safety of people visiting a historic Aberdeen harbour after motorists have been spotted turning dangerously close to the water.
Motorists have been been forced to carry out three-point turns on the pier at Cove Harbour – which does not have a barrier – or reverse right up the hill after boulders were put in place on the road leading down to it.
It is the latest in a long-running wrangle over the use of the harbour.
A group of fishermen recently lost their four-year battle with landowner Pralhad Kolhe, and were ordered to move their boats and equipment.
But in his judgement Sheriff Andrew Miller – who said the owners of the small fleet of around 10 vessels had “no right” to “occupy and use” the parts of the site under Mr Kolhe’s ownership – also ruled that the public should enjoy full access to a strip of road passing through the harbour, up to and including the pier.
Following the result of the court case, Mr Kolhe – who owns the white house overlooking the small bay – ordered large rocks be put in place all the way along the borders of his property, creating a much more restricted route.
As a result, those who frequently use the harbour for walking and kayaking have spotted an increasing number of motorists struggling to get out – either having to reverse all the way up the steep hill or carry out complicated turns just a short distance away from a drop into the water.
Cove councillor Stephen Flynn said that safety at the harbour is of “paramount importance”, and called for the situation to be improved.
Mr Flynn said: “I’ve had a host of local residents express their concerns about the positioning of these huge boulders and the impact they have in further narrowing this stretch of road down to the harbour.
“I think everyone would agree that safety at a harbour has to be of paramount importance, and some of the stories about vehicles turning on the pier are deeply worrying.
“Cove harbour remains a wonderful asset on the doorstep of our community, and I know many locals are simply hoping that common sense will prevail.”
The battle begins
Conflict between Mr Kolhe and the Cove Fisherman’s Association started four years ago, when the landowner first told the boat owners to remove their vessels and associated equipment from his land.
When they refused, Mr Kolhe responded by putting up signs stating the area was private property, installing boulders to block access, and issuing red warning stickers to motorists parking their vehicles in the area.
The hostility culminated in a legal battle in court, which Mr Kolhe won – with Sheriff Andrew Miller ordering the fishermen to move their boats.
Following the result, the remaining fishermen still at Cove moved their vessels from Mr Kolhe’s land to a small corner of the harbour, further away from the water line.
Just six of the original dozen boats remain, and where there had once been plenty of winches to go around, now the owners are forced to share just one.
A spokesman for the fisherman’s association said the group will continue to use the harbour, but admitted that the days of Cove Harbour’s fishing heritage could soon be at an end.
With opportunities for boat owners to easily cast off from more hospitable locations up and down the north-east coast, the association believes they will most likely be the final generation of fishermen in Cove, bringing an end to a tradition that has existed since the 19th century.