Projects across Rural Inverness and Nairn to benefit from LEADER funding

Highland LEADER Programme 2014-2020

A rural learning centre, a popular outdoor area and a sports club are among projects in Rural Inverness and Nairn set to benefit from funding from the Highland LEADER Programme.

The Inner Moray Firth South Local Area Partnership is responsible for delivering the LEADER Programme in Nairnshire and Rural Inverness, excluding Inverness City.  It has approved funding of £298,706 to date and is encouraging potential applicants to come forward for a share of the remaining funds which must be committed by early 2019.

LEADER aims to promote economic and community development within rural areas.  Individuals, groups, organisations and businesses can apply for funding towards a wide range of projects. 

The Shieling Project Community Interest Company is one of the groups to successfully secure funding with an award of £61,975 from LEADER.

The social enterprise, based in Strathfarrar near Beauly, aims to engage people with the tradition of the shieling.  The Shieling Project offers school trips, both day trips and residentials, summer camps for children and adults, volunteering opportunities for adults, and has recently opened an outdoor nursery for 3 to 5 year olds.

Funding from LEADER, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and a loan from Social Investment Scotland will support the creation of accessible and sustainable accommodation at the project site.  This includes six cabins and an accessible compost toilet building.

Sam Harrison, Project Manager of the Shieling Project said: “Developing our infrastructure will allow us to accommodate more people and to extend our season.  An increase in bookings will lead to the creation of new jobs as well as safeguarding existing posts and by 2018, the Shieling Project will be the biggest employer in Glen Strathfarrar.  Generating additional income will also further our aim of being fully financially sustainable and independent of grant funding within two years.”

Leader funding

Pupils from Ullapool High contribute to cabin design process at the Shieling Project site

Scottish Canals has recently been awarded funding of £42,362 from LEADER.  Ailsa Andrews, Scottish Canals said: “We’ve seen an increase in the use of the towpath between Inverness and Dochgarroch since improvements were made which allows visitors and members of the community to walk/cycle from Inverness, across the lock and back along the other side.  The number of people visiting Dochgarroch is also rising and this has created greater demand for access to public amenities.  Funding from LEADER, Highland Council and Jacobite Cruises will contribute towards new public toilet facilities at Dochgarroch Lock.”

George Hawco, Chair of Inverness West Community Council and a member of the LEADER decision making group said: “The new toilets will put an end to the issues the community has faced due to the lack of provision such as “antisocial toileting” and pressure from visitors to provide access to their domestic facilities.”

LEADER funding of £65,000 was also awarded to Nairn Sports Club towards alterations and an extension to the Sports Club building.  Pauline Barron, the Club’s Development Manager said: “The works have recently been completed and we are delighted with the improvements made to the Club.  The additional space will allow us to introduce more initiatives in the New Year that promote health, well-being and rehabilitation.”

David Godden, Chair of the Inner Moray Firth South Local Area Partnership said: “These awards demonstrate the diverse range of projects LEADER can support.  With just over a year left to commit LEADER funds and funding allocated on a first come, first served basis, we would encourage groups to get in touch now to discuss any project ideas.  The Local Area Partnership has recently increased the maximum grant available to £100,000 with applicants able to apply for grants over £10,000 and for up to 50% of project costs.  The Local Area Partnership can consider funding projects above these limits in exceptional cases.” 

For further information about the Highland LEADER Programme please visit 



Photo 1:  Pupils from Ullapool High contribute to cabin design process at the Shieling Project site

Photo 2: New section of Nairn Sports Club






28 Dec 2017