Fresh calls to dredge a Moray harbour have been made amid fears its condition means a slipway is unusable.
The ramp at Buckie Harbour was bought by Macduff Shipyards two years ago amid hopes the sale could revitalise the industry in the town.
Now it has been claimed a build-up of silt has rendered it useless for pulling vessels out of the water for work.
Last night, Moray Council stressed the shipbuilding firm is responsible for bringing the slipway back into use but said it is willing to support those efforts.
However, concerns have been raised that thee problems are a result of the authority’s £2.5million dredger, Selkie, not fulfilling its role.
Buckie councillor Gordon Cowie said: “My point is the dredger has not been working. I think it has actually done about five days in the last three months.
“The boat yard is saying it can’t fulfil slipping its boats because it hasn’t been dredged. They were promised this two or three months ago and it’s never been done.
“It’s not just the shipyard that uses that basin, the lifeboat uses it also. It’s a concern.”
Councillor Sonya Warren claimed concerns about a lack of dredging in ports had not been pursued.
She said: “We were told we wouldn’t need a plan B because our dredger would do it. We are now in the position of having our dredger away doing other work and not doing our own harbours.
“If it’s away for two months then how are we going to make sure we have safe channels?”
The Selkie is currently in Rosyth in Fife undertaking a commercial dredging contract to generate income for the council.
The boat was launched in 2016 amid hopes it would save the council cash while raking in extra proceeds from commercial jobs. However, it has been dogged by a series of issues leading to accusations it has become a “white elephant”.
The council’s transportation manager Nicola Moss said the planned operations for the vessel in Moray were still expected to be completed for the current financial year – adding that the vessel can operate through the winter.
She said: “The slip is part of the shipyard and it is their responsibility. We have been working with them and assisting them because it is the right thing to do.
“But that is capital dredging works to bring a disused slip back into operation as opposed to the maintenance of established basins and channels.”
A spokesman for the shipyard declined to comment.