Study revealed into potential water taxi service in Fife

Aberdour  - one of the proposed stops on the water taxi route (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Aberdour - one of the proposed stops on the water taxi route (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Councillors have studied a report on calls for a water taxi service linking towns along the region’s coastline.

But, the survey showed it was not feasible without greater development in the tourism industry.

At the South and West Fife area committee on Wednesday, councillors were told that with the current infrastructure around the coast, it would be too expensive to upgrade ports without better facilities.

The committee asked for the study in May to look into what would be required to create a service between Kincardine, Culross, Limekilns, Rosyth, North Queensferry, Aberdour and Inchcolm.

Ann Camus, manager, told a meeting of Fife Tourism Partnership: “At this time, the study has shown there would be quite limited scope for services, due to tidal times, limited access at harbours, limited infrastructure and no welcome area.

“There would be a need for better tourism infrastructure – more cafes, restaurants, cycle routes, public toilets – before the private sector would consider investing.

“And, it would have to be the private sector who run it. We couldn’t subsidise it as we don’t have that kind of budget.”

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Ms Camus said the study looked wider than just south and west Fife, and considered harbours around the coastline.

Tide times showed there was only a three to four hour window in which such a service would be able to operate every day, depending on the weather.

The most viable option would be to run the service from Anstruther, where no upgrades were needed to the harbour, but Ms Camus said they were advised it was already was near capacity.

Sandra MacRae, consultant told councillors a number of operators were approached, and a few were receptive to the idea, despite costs of between £120,000 and £180,000 – plus dredging costs of around £35,000.

She added: “Interested is too strong a word, but at least three were definitely receptive. Some had already discussed the benefits, but didn’t think it would be technically possibly or commercially viable. “Had they seen an opportunity, they would be doing it by now.”

Cllr David Barratt, who asked for the study to be conducted, said: “Although the report highlights challenges, there are still opportunities in terms of the Burntisland cruise port, which could bring a lot of visitors into the area – but a lot depends on other things happening and that investment going in.

“We do need to look at developing tourism, and a water taxi in its purest form was never going to be able to link every coastal village,, but it is useful to have all this information.”

Councillor Alice McGarry, convener, added: “Without substantial investment it seems there is currently little scope to develop a water taxi service along the south west Fife coast.

“Should a collaborative approach be developed in the future to greatly increase tourism to the area, there could be an opportunity for a private sector operator to look again at the service.”