The Highland LEADER Programme is encouraging potential applicants to come forward with project ideas.
Funding of over £6.6 million is available for projects that will benefit communities across the Highlands, including Skye and the Small Isles.
Following a period of uncertainty regarding the future of EU Programmes following the UK Referendum, Scottish Government has recently announced that LEADER funds can be committed up until the point the UK leaves the EU. Jon Hollingdale,
One of the first to benefit is Lochcarron Community Development Company with funding of £33,529 approved for a two year project at Kirkton Woodlands.
Activities will include the construction of an all-abilities trail, provision of new locally-designed Viewpoint ‘furniture’ & signboards, a cleared village heritage interpretation project, an ongoing community volunteer programme, and a children’s activities programme. Feasibility studies will also be undertaken, analysing the viability, scale and definition of a number of eco-tourism and business opportunities within the woods.
Chair of the Strategic Local Action Group (LAG) which is responsible for the overall management and delivery of the Highland LEADER Programme, said: “We welcome this news which means that projects in the Highlands will continue to benefit from LEADER funds. We would encourage potential applicants to get in touch with the Highland LEADER team to discuss project ideas.”
LEADER is an EU Fund aimed at promoting economic and community development within rural areas. The Highland LEADER Programme covers the mainland Highlands, the Small Isles and Skye but excludes the city of Inverness and the Cairngorms National Park.
Due to the size of the area and the range of diverse local communities in Highland, the programme has adopted a structure which devolves decision making to seven Local Area Partnerships (LAPs). Funding totalling £3.4 million will be allocated to projects by the LAPs.
Individuals, groups, organisations and businesses also have the opportunity to apply for funds held centrally by the Strategic LAG. Funding is ring-fenced for Highland wide projects, rural enterprise and farm diversification projects. Funding is also available for co-operation projects between Local Area Partnership areas in Highland and for projects between organisations or groups in Scotland, the UK or Europe.
The Highland LEADER Programme recently made its first approval and to date four projects have been awarded funding. In addition to the Lochcarron scheme they are:
Morvern Community Development Company was awarded £34,173 for the expansion of pontoon facilities at Lochaline Harbour.
Fyrish Gymnastics Club secured £34,200 towards the cost of gymnastics equipment.
Caol Regeneration Company proposes to establish a community-owned marina and public slipway adjacent to the Southern outlet of the Caledonian Canal. LEADER funding of £25,000 will support the development phase of the project.
Fiona Cameron, LEADER Programme Manager said: “Projects which contribute towards the aims and objectives of the Highland LEADER Programme will be eligible for consideration. The seven Local Area Partnerships have each developed a Local Area Action Plan which outlines development priorities and will guide their funding decisions.”
“The Highland LEADER Programme employs five development officers who will support and guide applicants through the process of applying for and managing a LEADER grant.”
For further information about the Highland LEADER Programme, how to apply and contact details for the development officers, please visit www.highlandleader.com