Aberdeenshire Council poised to strike three-year dredging deal to clear harbours

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Banff Harbour (© Duncan Brown Photography)

Posted December 5, 2019

Aberdeenshire Council is poised to strike a three-year dredging deal to prevent excessive sediment building up at the region’s harbours.

The authority has put out a contract seeking a “specialist” to carry out maintenance of the seabed at Stonehaven, Banff and Macduff.

The move was agreed by councillors during recent private talks.

Members of the infrastructure services committee heard that dredging was required on an annual basis to avoid large amounts of silt accumulating in the basins.

The council’s director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer, said: “This procurement will enable Aberdeenshire Council to appoint a specialist contractor to carry out maintenance dredging at Banff, Macduff and Stonehaven harbours on a three-year framework contract, with the option of an additional 12-month extension, subject to the satisfactory performance of the supplier.”

And yesterday, hopes were raised that one neighbouring council may be able to capitalise on the situation by sending its much-maligned dredger down the coast.

Moray Council’s £2.5 million machine has been labelled a “failure” since its launch in 2016 – partly because it has not clawed back its costs by being hired out to other authorities as originally planned.

Buckie councillor, Gordon Cowie, believes the Aberdeenshire work could be a “good opportunity” to put the MV Selkie to use.

He said: “I think it could be a very good idea and think it’s something Moray Council would be very interested in.”

Independent councillor for Banff and District, John Cox, is hopeful that the project will encourage more visitors to use the ports.

He said: “Any steps to have a strategic plan in place regarding the dredging of harbours is beneficial. It will provide better access for visitors at the harbour.

“The harbours are a vital asset here in the north-east and unfortunately are often underplayed.

“I look forward to having more discussions about the services and facilities that are in and around the harbour to help boost the local economy.”

Mr Cox had previously expressed concerns regarding the safety risks that could arise if excess sand isn’t removed from Banff Harbour.

As statutory authority for Banff, Macduff and Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire Council has a legal obligation to provide safe navigation for harbour users.

Officers said that, given the nature of the works, it was desirable to have a combined contract agreed on a longer-term basis.

Source: pressandjournal.co.uk