HAYLE could be a step closer to having a community-run harbour after the council backed the takeover bid by a community interest group.
Hayle Harbour Trust has been supported by Cornwall Council to take on the running of the harbour and land from current owners ING Real Estate Developments.
As part of a continuing consultation, ING has been speaking with community groups, Cornwall Council and local residents to decide which organisation will take on the assets.
Options include a council-run port, a community group or private enterprise.
In 2011 council officers put forward a draft paper which included an option of converting Hayle from a privately-owned to a municipal port.
However, last week the council confirmed it would not be pursuing an option to incorporate Hayle in its portfolio of municipal ports.
But the council said it would offer advice and assistance if it was to be converted to a community interest company or a trust port.
In a letter to Hayle Harbour Trust, Peter Marsh, Cornwall Council corporate director of environment, said: "Given the current economic climate and uncertainty around local government finances it would not be prudent for the council to take on the management of the harbour.
"I offer the support of Cornwall Council to the Hayle Harbour Trust's community interest company approach."
The trust, which was set up in 2010 and given registered charity status in 2012, includes many trustees who have harbour-related experience and wish to run the harbour for the benefit of the community.
Trust chairman and former Hayle mayor, John Bennett, was pleased to have the council's backing.
He said: "Taking on the management of the harbour, which has suffered many years of neglect and damage (under Rosshill and Carruthers ownership), is a daunting task. Having the support of Cornwall Council will be vital for a successful outcome."
The handover of assets has not been decided by the owners at this stage and ING confirmed it would now press ahead with plans to continue the consultation programme with local residents and stakeholders that would now not include the municipal port option.
Gary Cartmell, ING Hayle Harbour's community spokesman, said: "We would like to thank officers for their work on the options paper and we are pleased that the council has confirmed its ability to advise and support the community body that will operate the harbour.
The Cornwall Strategic Planning Committee has asked us to consult within 12 months of starting work on South Quay and this will be accomplished."