A Moray port is poised to pass into community ownership within two years to help spearhead regeneration efforts.
Portgordon Harbour is owned by Crown Estate Scotland, but a village group was formed in 2005 to drive forward improvements.
Now it has been confirmed a memorandum of understanding has been signed by both parties to ensure the port is in community hands by the end of 2023.
‘Amazing opportunities lie ahead for Portgordon’
Scott Sliter, chairman of Portgordon Community Harbour Group, said: “We couldn’t be more pleased with the progress made toward advancing the community’s goals, within just four years of consultations.
“We have a real sense now that our desired outcomes are achievable, and the whole community is rallying behind our plan to regenerate the heart of Portgordon through the harbour estate.
“Amazing and creative opportunities lie ahead for the village.”
Concerns have long been raised about the condition of Portgordon Harbour.
Last year a warning was issued about an obstruction lurking beneath the surface near the entrance, while in 2014 boat owners were ordered to leave due to safety concerns over storm damage to a pier.
Portgordon locals driving regeneration efforts
Residents have been running events to encourage regeneration efforts at the port, and other locations in the village.
Campaigners banded together after learning that village assets that could be used by the community were up for sale.
Simon Hodge, chief executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “We’re committed to helping communities take a greater role in managing local assets.
“This new agreement represents a significant step towards transfer of ownership and we are excited to have reached this point.”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The future of the harbour has long been a priority for residents in Portgordon and I know that the Harbour Group has put in an incredible amount of work in recent years to get to this point.
“They deserve a huge amount of credit for the progress that’s been made and I’m excited to see how things move forward.
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Marc Macrae believes the development of a “community hub” in the village would improve life for locals.
Negotiations about a potential lease of the former Richmond Arms, which closed in 2011, from the Crown Estate are ongoing.
Mr Macrae said: “The village has so much to offer and the hub can only complement existing clubs, groups and facilities, not take away from them.”