Port’s plans boost for industry

Sandy Watt, John Forman, John Wallace, Bill Mackie.
Sandy Watt, John Forman, John Wallace, Bill Mackie.

Peterhead Port Authority unveiled an ambitious £40m upgrade plan for its fishmarket facilities last week.

The proposals, which will see the creation of a new fishmarket at Greenhill and deepening work within the harbour, went on display at the town’s Palace Hotel on Thursday

The port upgrade, which is heavily dependent on European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) cash, is being carried out to cope with demand, with the current fishmarket no longer fit for purpose.

If a funding bid from EMFF is successful, work could begin on the development in May next year, with the new facility set to be operational at the end of 2016.

Commenting on the development, port chief executive, John Wallace, said that without the upgrade it would not be possible to cope with demand.

“Space in the current market is at a premium and with the introduction of the landings obligation on January 1, 2016, which will mean no discards, we anticipate that the problem of space will only get worse,” he said.

“We are working on getting all the necessary permissions including a Harbour Revision Order to allow the works to go ahead, as well as an environmental impact assessment and cost appraisals. Tenders are due to go out in a couple of months.”

Work will include deepening the two main north and south harbour basins by more than ten feet to create a total depth of 21 feet,

The port authority has set aside a budget of £35m for the project, with a £5m contingency for unforseen situations. It is hoped that 25 percent of the total could be funded through the EMFF grant, with three-quarters of the cash coming from the harbour’s own reserves.

Meanwhile, the authority has also unveiled a new harbour master and assistant harbour master, following the retirement of Captain Tom Hemmingway on March 24 after 23 years in the post.

The new harbour master is former Peterhead skipper John Forman (57), who will be assisted in his day-to-day duties by Sandy Watt (56).

Commenting on the appointments, Mr Wallace said: “We are delighted that we have appointed two gentlemen who know the area and port and the system, so it’s not a steep learning curve in that respect.

“They are both well known and well respected and we knew that these would be difficult shoes to fill in terms of Tom Hemmingway and Alex Cowe, but the board are clearly delighted to have found this level of competence within our own staff.

“If anyone has any harbour business these are the gentlemen to get in touch with, particularly concerning the new development,” he added.