Fees totalling £17,000 for boat owners at a north-east harbour have been torn up for this year after a pontoon replacement project was hit with delays.
Moray Council is funding a £550,000 project at Findochty after the previous berths were rendered unusable due to storm damage.
However, the work has been beset with setbacks due to licences from Marine Scotland to install the new ones being outstanding.
Pleas to drop ‘unfair’ harbour fees
Findochty Harbour is home to many leisure craft owners and is also home to the popular village rowing club.
The pontoon delays have rendered the port unusable with boats unable to be put back into the water while the work is outstanding.
Buckie councillors Gordon Cowie, Tim Eagle and Sonya Warren all backed calls from harbour users to waive this year’s fees due to the disruption.
A statement from all three said: “Sadly the effects of the Covid pandemic and the complexity in the Marine Scotland license application amongst other issues has led to significant delays with the original plan.
“It is unlikely we will now see them installed until after most boat users will have removed their boats for the winter.
“Recognising the delays as well as the fact the previous pontoons were broken last year we do not feel it is fair to charge users a pro-rata harbour fee when they will not get summer use of the pontoons.”
Boat owners will miss most of season
Now Moray Council has agreed the bills, which total £17,000, will be torn up at Findochty Harbour for the current financial year.
The authority expects the earliest date of entry for harbour users will now not be until September.
Once complete, the new pontoons will provide 90 berths and accommodate vessels up to 32ft long.
Moray Council convener Shona Morrison said: “Ward members requested this action be taken in the interests of fairness, which council agreed with, given harbour users will have missed out on the majority of the season by the time the new pontoons are in place.
“Council officers are awaiting the issue of the marine licence from Marine Scotland in order to progress with installation of the pontoons.”
The Findochty pontoon project has also been hit with escalating costs with the final bill expected to be more than double the initial estimate, which the council described as “indicative”.