Campaigners say they have sourced a project for £100,000 which could see Millport Pier re-opened for the Waverley to visit, but have been steered off course by cash-strapped North Ayrshire Council.

The Save Millport Pier group have now voiced fears that delays to the council's flood prevention scheme could hamper the future restoration of the pier structure.

The pressure group say that the Scottish Government are insisting on further scrutiny of the scheme after its costs spiralled from £12m to £30m.

With the new scheme being introduced in tandem with future pier works, campaigners fear that the timescale of any development would be 5-7 years away, and could therefore result in the pier becoming falling into further disrepair.

Campaign spokesman Mari Wallace said: "This presents the situation whereby a longer lifespan will be necessary over which the timber pier will be retained and must be managed by North Ayrshire Council, and possibly presents an opportunity for us to better justify urgent repairs being carried out now to bring it back into use for that period.

"The problem is of course that without any maintenance whatsoever being carried out in the interim period it is virtually certain that North Ayrshire Council will achieve its declared intention of demolishing the pier, as stated in the North Coast Area minutes of 11 February 2016 - if only through neglect and dereliction with the resultant prominent eyesore to be suffered by locals and visitors alike."

"Previously IKM Consulting, working on behalf of Millport Pier and Harbour Users’ Group, had submitted a quote of circa £465K for putting the pier into full working order.

"When representatives from Millport last met with a NAC representative in May it was suggested that a low cost solution may be considered so long as it also included risk assessment, certification and insurance which were a major concern to the council.

"IKM Consulting then carried out further work on behalf of the Pier and Harbour Users group resulting in a revised proposal for a repair scheme that would enable the safe use of the pier by a range of vessels during reasonable weather conditions for a total cost of £100,000.

This included a serviceable pier, capable of being used safely by members of the public, fishing vessels and the Waverley for visiting Millport, safe step-off access for leisure vessels. and safe mooring for large vessels in benign conditions.

"The reply from the council was that they didn’t have the funds to take this proposal forward as: ‘The inspection of the masonry pier, carried out in conjunction with the timber pier inspection last March, highlighted a number of repairs required for the masonry pier.'

"Therefore, North Ayrshire Council are focusing on the highest priority repairs to the masonry pier in order to ensure that we can keep the masonry pier in good order.’

"It appears that our council continue to ignore the fact that over 9200 people signed a Save Millport Pier Petition and the campaign has the support of local community groups, Councillor Tom Marshall, Councillor Alan Hill, Ken Gibson MSP, Jamie Greene MSP, Patricia Gibson MP."

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We are currently in discussions with the Scottish Government regarding the Millport Coastal Flood Protection Scheme. Once we receive clarification on various aspects of the project, including potential costs, we will be in the position to present a report to Cabinet for further consideration. At this stage, we are not able to comment on the details of the project.”