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Funding for rural communities
Funding of £96.6 million has been awarded to more than 1,000 projects across rural Scotland.
The cash investment comes from the Rural Priorities scheme within the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP). Projects approved from this round alone will create or sustain more than 200 jobs and brings the total investment approved to £257.8 million.
Projects to have funding approved include the conversion of a farm steading near Forres which into a rural enterprise centre which will bring 50-70 jobs to the area, a new restaurant and guesthouse for the Western Isles and a plan to improve wildlife habitats in Angus.
Rural Secretary Richard Lochhead said that the funding will boost Scotland's economic recovery, tackle climate change and position rural Scotland to deliver for the twenty-first century.
Mr Lochhead said:
"Rural communities produce food and generate tourism - two of the key drivers powering the Scottish economy.
"Rural Priorities is of considerable importance to Scotland's Economic Recovery Programme, with £34.6 million of this new funding going directly to farming and rural businesses to help improve their competitiveness.
"Over a number of years, more than #60 million will also go towards environmental and forestry projects which will protect and improve Scotland's natural environment and help meet our targets on climate change. A large number of forestry projects in particular have been approved in this round, which will be valuable to the development of the sector."
"This has been another very successful round of assessments with interest in Rural Priorities now at record levels."
This is the sixth round of approvals from the Rural Priorities scheme. £257.8 million has now been approved, funding around 3,600 projects in rural Scotland.
The funding for this round is broken down as follows:
Argyll 102 6,439,527
Ayrshire 58 2,927,731
Borders 69 6,153,445
Clyde Valley 27 2,114,414
Dumfries and Galloway 96 10,715,814
Forth 57 8,196,272
Grampian 350 25,384,103
Highland 147 19,209,446
Northern Isles 83 4,002,107
Outer Hebrides 29 1,997,353
Tayside 113 9,491,499
Total 1131 96,631,711
Projects funded from Rural Priorities range from tiny grants for small farm-based projects up to sizeable awards for developments which will completely transform communities across Scotland. The range is illustrated by the different projects outlined below:
- A £900,000 grant will be used to restore and redevelop an extensive redundant farm steading complex near Forres. The project will create a 15,000 square foot rural enterprise centre incorporating holiday accommodation and community facilities. Extensive consultation has been carried out with Moray Council and Historic Scotland to ensure that the project meets local strategies while protecting the architect's original visions for this most unusual Italianate design. Business units will be targeted to SMEs typically employing 5-6 people however internal layouts will be flexible. Between 50-70 jobs will either be created or relocated to the area, significantly benefiting the local economy and community.
- Mr Porter of West Scryne Farm near Carnoustie will receive £50,000 grant to develop a management scheme for corn buntings and other wildlife across four farms in Angus. Corn buntings are increasingly endangered due to loss of habitat through modern farming practices. The scheme will ensure the sustainable management of the unharvested crops and grassland areas, which the birds depend on, for five years. New hedges and improved hedge management are among measures which will benefit other wildlife including Tree Sparrow and Barn Owl populations as well as curlew, lapwing, and yellowhammer.
- Crofter and former restaurateur, Richard Leparoux will use his experience in the catering and tourism industry to create a four star guest house with top class restaurant in Uig using a grant of £165,600. This project will contribute to the achievement of the Outer Hebrides Tourism Strategy, will incorporate on-site renewable energy generation and will create three full time jobs for the area. Mr Leparoux hopes the venture will establish a reputation for excellence which will bring additional tourists to the Uig area to dine in the restaurant and stay in the guest house.
- Mr Kerr Blyth plans to create a small 0.7 hectare woodland and hedgerow near Pencaitland in East Lothian using a £5,888 grant. The new woodland area will link two existing areas and will contribute to the mitigation of climate change through increased carbon capture, contribute to native woodland expansion targets and increase local biodiversity. Hedgerows offer food and cover for a variety of wildlife, including birds, beetles, butterflies, mice and voles. Creating this habitat will help to ensure that many species can not only survive in the region but also increase in numbers.
- Crudie Farms in Easter Ross will enhance their efficiency and productivity and reduce costs by erecting a high quality refrigerated store for their potato crops. Using a #435,484 grant they will eliminate significant haulage costs and manage their harvest to a higher standard, reducing crop losses and improving marketable yield. 11 existing jobs will be sustained, as well as creating work for part-time workers at harvest time.
- West Cairngarroch (Dumfries and Galloway)-based new entrant Kenneth Dunlop, in partnership with father Alec, plan to move from 90 dairy cows in an outdated system, to a 150-strong herd in a new complex using a grant of £353,063. The development will include a cubicle shed with comfort mats, large milking parlour, and earthbank silo and slurry lagoon. Modernisation will allow the herd to go onto a new feeding regime, in turn reducing feed costs, enhancing business viability and improving health and welfare as well as environmental management.