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Council / Sullom Voe users ‘disappointed’ at increases to harbour charges

Sullom Voe Terminal. Shetland News

THERE has been “disappointment” from users of Sullom Voe Terminal over Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) proposed increase to harbour charges for the next financial year.

Charges are due to rise on average by 2.74 per cent in line with inflation after the SIC’s harbour board gave the increases its backing on Wednesday.

The charges include fees for vessels engaged in the provision of services, supply of materials and export of products from the terminal and gas processing plant.

There are also fees for work like towing and ship to ship oil transfers.

A report presented to Wednesday’s harbour board meeting from finance manager Jamie Manson said terminal users were not too pleased with this year’s level of increase.

“Meetings were held with representatives of the harbour users for both Sullom Voe Terminal and other piers and harbours to get their views on the proposed level of harbour charges, he wrote.

“There was disappointment from the Sullom Voe Terminal users with regard to the charges increase of 2.74 per cent.”

The report added that there were a “number of issues raised by the other piers and harbours users regarding the increase to the proposed charges and the methods of charging across the different industry sectors”.

“Officers have committed to having meetings and more frequent dialogue with users to address concerns going forward,” it said.

Board chairwoman Andrea Manson said the council speaks with industries like aquaculture and fishing annually about charges, but more regular meetings will be now held.

“The comment was made that we only speak to them when we put up our prices,” she said.

Infrastructure director John Smith added that the council maintains “very active dialogue” with users of the port of Sullom Voe.

The proposed budgets for 2020/21 for ports and harbours operations, meanwhile, includes a surplus of £6.7 million on harbour activity and rental income from the Shetland Gas Plant of £600,000.

That projected income for the gas plant, however, is for base rent only.

Low gas and oil prices have resulted in the prospect of no throughput rental income in the next year, councillors were advised.