Night watch cover introduced at Macduff as area-wide increase in Harbour Rates and Dues agreed

Night watch cover at Macduff Harbour will be extended into the weekends following a series of recent decisions on harbour-related matters by councillors.

The seven Aberdeenshire Council-owned harbours were a significant part of a recent Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) meeting, with decisions made on three related reports. 

The council maintains and manages harbours at Banff, Johnshaven, Portsoy, Gourdon, Macduff, Stonehaven and Rosehearty.

Councillors approved a baseline increase of 3.5% in Rates and Dues for 2019/20 and new charges for some services and facilities.

These include charges for the provision of ice and the disposal of waste at Macduff and the introduction of a standard £300 fee for production companies looking to film at council harbours.

A number of films and adverts have been made using the authority’s harbours over the years, but until now there has been no charge to recover costs.

Portsoy was the principal film location for the 2016 remake of Whisky Galore, while Stonemouth was shot at Macduff in 2014.

The agreed baseline increase does not apply to percentage fees or to “one-off” single payments, such as leisure slipway fees or season tickets.

Typical examples of increases include:

• a six-month fee for a 7m traditional berth at Stonehaven with no water supply increases by £5.14 from £146.76 to £151.90
• a 12-month fee for an 8m serviced pontoon berth in Banff Harbour Marina increases by £42.35 from £1209.96 to £1,252.35
• the weekly rate for a typical commercial fishing vessel (17-22m length overall) laid up at Macduff Harbour increases £3.38 from £96.71 to £100.09

A number of positive decisions were made by ISC, the appointed Duty Holder under the Port Marine Safety Code for Aberdeenshire Council harbours.

Committee chair Peter Argyle said: “The decision to expand night watch coverage at Macduff into the weekends takes modern fishing industry working practices and infrastructure enhancements within the harbour into consideration and we hope it is well received.

“The increased staffing level aligns with the introduction of an ice machine facility in April and a number of other infrastructure improvements at various stages of completion, where we have made significant investment.

“The additional service will be provided by recovering the full cost from harbour users and there has been consultation with them on how best to do this.”

Infrastructure investment of around £769,000 has been made at Macduff Harbour over the past three years from the Council’s Regeneration Reserve Fund and European and Maritime Fisheries Funds. 

When added to running costs, the total spend on the harbour in the last three years amounts to more than £1.7millon.

ISC vice chair John Cox said: “We hope the extra assurance the extension of night watch cover brings to harbour users in terms of safety and security, as well as the ongoing improvements, will see more vessels land and berth there.

“This would not only help reduce the overall annual deficit at the harbour, but would also be beneficial to the local community and economy.”

Although fish landings significantly increased from 2016/17 to 2017/18 by more than 100%, bringing an additional £18,000 to the harbour as a result of the relaxation of Designated Port Status in December 2016, the overall annual budget deficit is still in the region of £228,000.

At a recent meeting of the Macduff Harbour Advisory Committee it was decided that full cost recovery of the night watch post will be made through an annual one-off cost to harbour users, based on vessel length.