THE man in charge of one of the busiest ports in Europe is to oversee Moray’s harbours.
Malcolm McKenzie (51) took up his new role as development and operations manager in charge of Cullen, Buckie, Findochty, Portknockie, Hopeman and Burghead this week.
Until recently he was harbourmaster at Dover and is a former commander with the Royal Navy, taking charge of destroyer and frigate class warships.
Moray Council is aiming to exploit the potential of its harbours and appointed Mr McKenzie after a nationwide recruitment campaign.
Visiting Hopeman on Monday, Mr McKenzie said two things had attracted him to Moray.
"One is the job itself," he said. "To be on the starting rung of the ladder of an enterprise that’s going to lead to an increase in prosperity to the economy, and be influential in how that’s developed in the area.
"The other is the area. I was born and brought up in Glasgow but I came up here with my parents on holidays in the summer and up for ice climbing in the winter."
Mr McKenzie added: "It’s getting the work/life balance. Down in the south of England it’s work before life and I definitely want to turn that round."
Mr McKenzie, who is married to Claire with two sons Archie (eight) and six-year-old Jacob, said he was looking forward to the challenge ahead.
He added: "I’ve seen what other areas have done with their harbour resources and it’s clear that the Moray coastline has huge potential for leisure boating and commercial development.
"The case for the economic development of Moray’s harbours is overwhelming and I’m looking forward to meeting local boating associations to explore the best way forward."
Average yearly berthing fees for his previous harbour were £3,500, whereas in Moray the figure is closer to £300.
The annual budget for Dover was £5.3 million generated by fees, while the figure for Moray is around £500,000.
Mr McKenzie said: "The numbers are different but the issues tend to be the same.
"Harbours need to be self-sufficient to survive and develop and in that environment everyone gets a better deal."
Barry Croshaw, chairman of the Hopeman Boat Owners Association, welcomed the appointment.
He said: "It is much more of an economic development focus – it can’t be anything but good."
Stephen Cooper, the local authority’s head of direct service, added Mr McKenzie’s experience at Dover and in the Royal Navy would be hugely beneficial.
Mr Cooper said: "There is great potential waiting to be unlocked, and I’m confident he’s the man to help do it."