Keep the door open for Arbroath Harbour

A STATEMENT made at last month’s meeting of Angus Council infrastructure services committee during discussion on a strategic review of the South Montrose area has angered local councillor Donald Morrison.

In a report presented to the meeting, the director of infrastructure services, Mr Eric Lowson, said: “Arbroath Harbour is not considered suitable for promotion as a base for offshore renewables.”

However, Councillor Morrison believes that more can be done to assist with the regeneration of Arbroath harbour as a commercial port.

The report was primarily concerned with updating facilities to permit further development of the port at Montrose, but reference was also made to the situation at Arbroath.

The report stated: “It should be noted, that while Arbroath Harbour is similarly geographically well located, the head of roads has reviewed capacity and suitability for Arbroath Harbour to accommodate servicing.

“Arbroath Harbour is used by inshore fishing boats, commercial vessels offering day trips to anglers and sightseers and small craft including yachts. Compound and pontoon berthing are at capacity and are subject to waiting lists.

“Support services, including use of a patent slip for vessels up to 100 ft, which can further be accommodated by temporary berths only, are available within Arbroath Harbour.

“There are opportunities to continue to provide support services for smaller craft, such as survey vessels, which are currently using available capacity at Arbroath. However, given the available berths are at capacity, vessel size is limited by the water depth, and the scale of support services required for the opportunities identified in the South Montrose Strategic Review, Arbroath Harbour is not considered suitable for promotion as a base for offshore renewables.”

However, Councillor Morrison feels that the council needs to keep Arbroath harbour’s gates open on any potential investment.

He went on: ”While fully recognising the commercial importance of Montrose Harbour to the Angus economy and the recent investment upgrading the quay, the importance Arbroath harbour could also play should not be dismissed from any future renewable energy business either.

“Obviously the harbour in Arbroath is unable to cope with the huge deep sea vessels seen tied up at Montrose, but it could cope with smaller vessels required for maintenance etc.”

He continued: “When the white fishing industry was in decline, the council took the bold decision to rejuvenate the harbour by opening it up to leisure craft.

“It was this never say never attitude when looking at other business streams for the harbour which has proven the marina to be a huge success.

“Therefore, if a renewable energy company were to see the potential use of Arbroath’s harbour then, as it is owned by the council, we must discuss their proposals with them.

“Angus Council is to be extending Elliot Industrial Estate and businesses based at the new units could be involved in the renewable energy sector.“

Councillor Bob Spink, a member of the infrastructure services committee, said he heard the proposals put forward for Montrose harbour and noted the director’s statement that Arbroath Harbour was not suitable for promotion as a base for offshore renewables.

He continued: “I understand his reasoning and agree the two ports are entirely different, with Montrose being much more accessible with deeper water and much more berthing enabling it to be developed as an industrial harbour, as indeed it is at the moment and no doubt behind these further proposals which incidentally I welcome for the good of Angus.

“Arbroath on the other hand is developing quickly as a significant tourist harbour with a very successful marina where now I am told you would have a seven-year wait if you seek to take a berth, not forgetting the thriving shellfish industry or equally thriving boatyard, all of which contribute in their own way by their presence, to the harbour’s attraction to tourists. So, in reality a mixed use harbour where investment is required and equally so alongside Montrose albeit in different ways.”

He concluded: “The demand for Arbroath as a base for offshore business would be necessarily limited, but anyone or any company who recognises that Arbroath harbour may suit his purposes should not be discouraged from exploring that possibility and welcomed, and meanwhile, let us bring forward an equally ambitious plan for Arbroath harbour and its surrounding area involving all sectors, tourism, industrial, and fishing.”