GROUPS which use the Fisherrow Harbour and waterfront area in Musselburgh are uniting with a common voice in a bid to increase the profile of the site for both locals and visitors.

A harbour and seafront steering group, made up of volunteers, has been formed to progress an action plan drawn up by consultants funded by Musselburgh Area Partnership, with a potential investment of between £1.7 million and £2.3 million in the pipeline.

Keen sailor David Wilkie, steering group chairman and a former commodore of Fisherrow Yacht Club, said this could lead to a harbour and seafront trust being established to seek funding to take forward future plans.

He said that this could also be achieved by becoming a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which provided a high degree of protection against liability.

“What kind of platform the group will be is up for discussion at the moment,” he said.

The historic harbour, which the consultants said had been subject to a “reactive maintenance regime” over many years, is included in the Musselburgh Common Good portfolio and at the moment is managed by East Lothian Council.

Mr Wilkie stressed that the area had “huge potential”, adding: “I just think we are sitting on a gold mine at Fisherrow and for Musselburgh to develop its seafront and harbour.

“We are making nothing of what we have got compared to what we might be able to do.”

The steering group is planning to hold monthly meetings at Fisherrow Yacht Club and is keen to attract representation from residents in the Fisherrow area as well as the local business community.

Mr Wilkie said: “There are a whole range of different local groups that all have an interest in the harbour and we have tried to bring together all the interested parties to see if we can agree a common agenda.”

He added: “One of the key first areas is to pull together a list of priorities. We need to have discussions with the council about two or three high priorities such as a programme of repair and maintenance to the harbour and a programme of beach cleaning and water improvement.

“These are absolute musts and if we can’t deliver on those we are wasting our time.”

Members of the steering group already include Fisherrow Yacht Club, Fisherrow Waterfront Group, Musselburgh Sea Cadets, Musselburgh & Inveresk Community Council, the Fisherrow Berth Holders Association and the Eskmuthe Rowing Club. Each can nominate four representatives to serve on the group and it is planned to approach commercial fishermen who use the harbour.

Mr Wilkie said a management agreement would have to be drawn up between the council and new trust or charitable organisation that takes on responsibility for the management, maintenance and development of the harbour area.

He has been joined by other office-bearers vice-chairman Veronica Noone and secretary Helen Green, both of the Eskmuthe Rowing Club and Fisherrow Waterfront Group.

Future projects contained in the report by consultants Campbell Macrae Associates include between 80 and 90 pontoon berths, dredging the harbour, a designated dog toilet at the East Beach and more dog bins. Other proposals include developing a beach wheelchair project and a number of regular summer beach activities, including a family fun day event, pop-up shops and beach huts.

Those who wish to be involved in the steering group should contact Mr Wilkie at