The restoration of storm-damaged Collieston Pier is a stage closer after a Dutch University confirmed it is in the process of finalising a repair project.
A group of engineering students from Delft University visited the pier late last year when they indicatedthere was scope for a scheme in the near future.
Collieston Pier group chairman David Stewart said that the newdevelopment is “good news”.
He told the Times: “We were very pleased to hear that the civil engineering department are finalising a project, which they will run past us before it is signed off.
“We are certainly not expecting Delft to build us a new pier, but we are very hopeful that the information generated by a project carried out by such a specialist team will be of great assistance in the future.”
First Minister and Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond has also shown an interest in the pier’s future.
Mr Salmond recently asked Marine Scotland to assess the area and investigate if they can provide assistance.
He said: “Collieston Pier is a local landmark and worthy of our best efforts towards preservation.
“Costs are mounting for the local community and it is unsustainable for them to continue to maintain the pier alone.
“As such I have contacted Marine Scotland to enquire about what assistance they might be able to provide.
“It is fantastic to have students coming to study the pier, and I hope that we can forge a connection between TU Delft in the Netherlands and our very own Collieston.
“I am sure the expertise that could be provided by the civil engineering department would prove innovative and invaluable.”
Mr Stewart added: “We are very pleased that Mr Salmond is taking an interest in this issue and appreciate his support very much.
“I have had a call from Marine Scotland about possible grant assistance, and it was agreed that I would get back to them once we had our project work properly planned.”
The pier group is currently classed as an informal group, but now they are about to launch paperwork seeing them become an official charitable organisation.
It will see the group become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation under the official title - Collieston Harbour Heritage Group.
The move is partly being co-ordinated by Slains and Collieston Community Council secretary, Sally Sheehan.
Mrs Sheehan said: “We need a separate group to move forward to apply for funding.
“The group will be a joint partnership with the community council rather than the council as its parents.”
Progress is going well with seven prospective trustees volunteering at their meeting last week when only three were needed.
She added: “This is really encouraging.
“People have huge emotional attachment to the pier - often there are emotions but no actions.
“The community are behind us all the way which is guaranteed when it involves the pier.”
The group hope that this new status will be in place by their fundraiser planned for next month.
A black tie event will be held at the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa on March 12.
Sponsorship has came from hotel owner, Stewart Spence, who has very close links with Collieston, as well as support from Ian Donald, former AFC chairman, who lives in the village.
Former Scotland and AFC manager, Craig Brown will be speaker on the night.