Highland Coastal Communities Fund support for Wester Ross projects

At today’s meeting of The Highland Council’s Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Committee (Monday 18 October), members agreed providing over £170,000 of grant support through the Highland Coastal Communities Fund to benefit six community-led projects and also agreed how an additional £40,000 to support young entrepreneurs will be delivered.

The Highland Coastal Communities Fund is a new fund designed to support economic regeneration and sustainable development around coastal areas in Highland. The fund is derived from revenue generated by Scottish Government Crown Estate marine assets.

Within an overall allocation to Highland of £3,034,703, the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Area Committee has been awarded £347,543.75 for distribution within Ward 5.

Gairloch Community Car Scheme have been awarded £12,705 in order to lease a suitable vehicle so they can continue to take passengers from local and neighbouring communities to hospital appointments and treatments. This includes not just any NHS Highland hospital, but also hospitals elsewhere in Scotland if required. The funding will provide Gairloch Community Car Scheme with a three-year vehicle lease and give the group a chance to build up their reserves to ensure this popular service will continue for years to come.

£38,500 has been awarded to the Wester Loch Ewe Trust so they can continue their project to extend and redevelop the old school for community use. The money will not only cover fixtures and fittings for the space but will also be used to carry out a community design and options study for the second phase of work required.

The Applecross Trust have been successful in their bid for £6,500 for their Brighter Face of Tourism project. With the easing of lockdown, the Highlands, and in particular the Applecross area became the place to visit. The unprecedented high number of people holidaying in the area put the community under strain. An emergency pilot scheme was introduced which eased the issues of human and general waste, overcrowding, wild camping, fires, cutting down of trees, and negative impact on quality of life for those living in the area. This project will build on the pilot scheme by designing a website, introducing a dog waste and beach clean campaigns along with signage and information boards.

£10,472 will be going to the Applecross Community Company to help with their project to restore the natural and cultural heritage of Torgarve Woodland. This 12 month project will deliver the first phase of the Torgarve Community Woodland’s Business Plan. It will focus on implementing Woodland Management, enhancing the biodiversity of the area and engage the community with developing amenities and providing volunteering opportunities.

The fifth grant award approved was for £90,350 to Community Out West for the Kinlochewe Community and Tourist Facilities Hub. This project aims to provide community toilets open 24/7 throughout the year for the local community, whilst also providing a range of much needed facilities for the many visitors to the area. The project is a multi-phase one, allowing development to take place without the need to close the toilets for an extended period.

Badrallach Community Company have been awarded £15,000 towards their restoration project, which they will match fund, to turn the Old School at Badrallach into tourist accommodation along with secure fencing of the area.

Earlier this year Members agreed to ringfence £40,000 to support young entrepreneurs. At the meeting yesterday they approved proposals for the creation of Young Entrepreneur Grants to help stimulate the economy in the area by providing extra funding for  young entrepreneurs setting up a business. These will  be delivered by the Business Gateway service in Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh.

The support from the Coastal Communities Fund will  run in parallel and align to the new Business Gateway Highland start-up grants from the Economic Prosperity Fund (EPF). This fund will add value and allow the Council to scale up its activities to support start-up businesses; to help growing businesses and to encourage existing businesses to adapt to new trading conditions and secure new business.

Chair of the Committee, Cllr Ian Cockburn said: “On behalf of our Committee I would like to thank all the community projects that submitted applications. The projects themselves are all very different but they share the goal of bringing tangible benefits to our communities. They focus on delivering improvements on the ground and we look forward to seeing all the projects progress.

He added: “I am sure the Young Entrepreneur Grants will bring a welcome boost to anyone who has returned to the area where they grew up who is looking to start a new business. According to the recent Business Gateway research snapshot the area has a very low business start- up rate in the 18-35 age demographic.  We know that there are a lot of talented and creative young people in our communities and this additional financial support could be a very helpful way for them to get established and an opportunity to increase the number of new businesses.”



18 Oct 2021