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'Dismay' over lack of Moray harbour dredging

By Alan Beresford

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THE issue of dredging at Moray's council-run harbours has been highlighted again by a local councillor.

Councillor Marc Macrae: Council's approach to dredging "disappointing".
Picture: Becky Saunderson
Councillor Marc Macrae: Council's approach to dredging "disappointing". Picture: Becky Saunderson

Complaints surrounding the dredging of the six affected harbours – Burghead, Hopeman, Buckie, Findochty, Portnockie and Cullen – had spurred Councillor Marc Macrae (Conservative – Fochabers-Lhanbryde) to call a public meeting on the matter back in January, where he was joined by Moray MP Douglas Ross and Tory council group leader Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie).

Many of the concerns expressed at the meeting centred round the controversy-dogged council dredger MV Selkie.

However, dredging is an issue which has yet again presented itself in Councillor Macrae's postbag.

He said: “I have been contacted by a number of concerned residents over the lack of dredging at Moray ports, and issue which I had hoped has been remedied following on from a public meeting I convened at the beginning of this year.

“It is greatly frustrating to hear from harbour users, in particular some from Hopeman who find themselves unable to use the harbour until the wee small hours when there is enough water to get out of the harbour.

“With the recent hot spell of weather, younger members of the community have been enjoying the harbour. It would be incorrect to say they were swimming in the harbour as they could quite easily have used a bucket and spade to dredge away the sand which they were stood on.

“I first brought this to the attention of council officers on May 22 and reminded them on June 10 but have had no response to date as to any solution to move forwards.

“I am told that a harbour user had reported the problem himself and was told that they refused to carry out any further dredging activities in the harbour.

“Whilst quite rightly many people are off work because of Covid-19 or working from home, the layout of the council’s own dredger, MV Seklie, seems ideal for social distancing with one in the wheelhouse, one in the digger and a third monitoring engine, deck etc.

“It beggars belief that this vessel is sat tied up in Buckie for the last few months, when the weather has been ideal for its operation and indeed a time when the harbours are less busy is surely an ideal time to carry out such works.

“As a harbour authority, it is disappointing that the council seem reluctant to carry out the necessary works to ensure their facilities are operational.

“I will continue to chase on behalf of Moray constituents for these works to be done and indeed a full and frank explanation why they have not.”

A spokesman for Moray Council that it was hoped to resume dredging operations as the lockdown eases further.

"Asyou might imagine the council stopped dredging activity in line with the government guidance as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Given the recent easing of restrictions as announced by the First Minister, the council expects to resume dredging operations shortly.

"Legislation requires that a thorough risk assessment is prepared, along with revised draft operating plans that provides virus protection for the crew. This is being carried out."

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