Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Lighthouse custodians in Moray could be ‘wiped out’ by potential £10,000 water bill

Chairman Chris Tuke outside the Covesea Lighthouse.
Pictures by Jason Hedges.
Chairman Chris Tuke outside the Covesea Lighthouse. Pictures by Jason Hedges.

Custodians of a historic Moray lighthouse fear they may be “wiped out” by a massive water bill.

The Covesea Lighthouse Community Company – a charity – has until now received an exemption on paying the fee due to its not-for-profit objectives.

A review of legislation, however, means groups across the country that also run commercial ventures to remain afloat could be hit by new charges to avoid “unfair competition” with small businesses.

The Lossiemouth group no longer qualifies for the discount as it rents out the two former keepers’ cottages to generate enough income to care for the landmark, which dates from the 1840s.

Campaigners have calculated the annual bill could amount to as much as £10,000 – a figure they warn could make their projects unviable and force them to close the doors of the lighthouse, neighbouring RAF and Navy heritage centre and popular holiday cottages.

Scottish Water has encouraged the group to contact their provider to explore the different options that may be available to them.

Covesea lighthouse.

Charity chairman Chris Tuke said: “We knew nothing about it until a letter came saying we had lost our exemption.

“It seems that because we take money from letting out cottages they think it would be unfair competition.

“We don’t think that’s the case because we actually charge a premium due to it being a unique site – we don’t undercut anyone in the town.

“All the income goes back into the running costs of the site. We think the bill will be about £10,000, maybe more – that would be us wiped out.”

The charity has been told to expect a bill from Scottish Water before the end of January.

It bought the Covesea lighthouse in 2013 before opening the A-listed landmark to the public for the first time in its history.

The light had been extinguished a year earlier having warned shipmasters of the rocky Skerries, which claimed 16 vessels during a storm in 1826, for 160 years.

The charity received a grant of £301,500 from the Scottish Land Fund to buy the tower from the Northern Lighthouse Board.

Concerns from the Lossiemouth group follow fears raised by Kinloss-based Morayvia, who estimate they could face an additional £20,000 annual charge due to the heritage centre running a gift shop.

Morayvia fears £20,000 water and sewerage charges ‘draining’ long term impact

Scottish Water explained charities and sports clubs that meet eligibility criteria are still able to avoid the annual charge – and encouraged the Covesea charity to discuss different alternatives with them.

A spokesman said: “The eligibility criteria exclude premises which are used for retail activities, including properties which are available for let as holiday accommodation.

“This criterion was set following public consultation when the current scheme was established in 2015, to ensure exemption does not enable, or appear to enable, unfair competition between charities and small businesses.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The reviewed water charge exemption scheme was designed to ensure that it did not lead to unfair competition between charities and small businesses which provide similar services such as holiday accommodation.

“We understand that Business Stream, the charity’s water provider, is in contact with Covesea Lighthouse Community Company to offer advice on potential steps that might be taken to continue their eligibility under the scheme.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in