21 July 2023

Consultation begins on developing new economic development plans for Aberdeenshire Council harbours

A consultation has begun around the creation of robust new economic development plans for all seven harbours operated by Aberdeenshire Council.

The project is being led by the MKA-Economics consultancy and will incorporate the current plans the council has for its facilities and the creation of fresh ones where it doesn’t.

Engagement with stakeholders will be undertaken between now and the end of August via phone, email or post and special dedicated sessions will also be hosted during Harbours Advisory Committee meetings in the autumn where all stakeholders will be welcome.

Among those being consulted will be harbour advisory groups and fishermen’s associations, harbour users including berth holders, fishermen and leisure users, a host of businesses supporting fishing, commercial, leisure and hospitality which operate in and around the harbours and representatives of the wider community in harbour towns and villages. 

Aberdeenshire Council is responsible for seven harbours – the commercial operation at Macduff and six recreational facilities at Banff, Portsoy, Rosehearty, Stonehaven, Gourdon and Johnshaven.

The project will assess the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at each harbour and will carefully evaluate the current economic impact of the harbours on the local economy, considering the annual subsidy made by Aberdeenshire Council in its operational costs.

There will also be a key focus on the current financial sustainability of harbours, with assessments being undertaken into the current model of harbour management and investigations into alternative models such as increased community/user management, asset transfer and commercial operators.

As part of the initiative, MKA-Economics will also be looking to:

  • Investigate constraints for growth in economic activity around the harbours 
  • Assess land and facilities constraints in the harbours and investigate opportunities to address these constraints
  • Investigate diversification opportunities for the harbour, including potential new uses as a specialist/niche destination for particular activities such as water sports, diving and food and drink
  • Investigate investment opportunities for growth of existing operations or new activities, with particular focus on economic growth of businesses and increase in harbour revenue
  • Assess how the harbour can encourage increased interaction with the sea among the wider Aberdeenshire community

Cllr Alan Turner, chair of the Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “It is vitally important that our stakeholders engage in the process, as their input will be essential in getting the facts right for all our harbour facilities. This project will offer an analysis of the opportunities for each harbour and present a robust and evidence-based investment plan over a 5-year period. I would encourage everyone to look out for MKA-Economics’ communications to ensure you have your say.”

Vice-chair Cllr Isobel Davidson added: “We have a range of harbours around the Aberdeenshire coastline which offer facilities for both the commercial and recreational markets. The creation of new economic development plans for each of them will help us to future-proof these harbours, identify new opportunities and ensure they remain fit-for-purpose for all our services and users.”   

Stakeholders are also welcome to contact MKA-Economics directly if they wish via project coordinator Leeanne Lowden at