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LEADER Funds Start To Filter Through

25th March 2009

Since the launch of the Highland LEADER Programme in excess of 400,000 of funding has already been allocated to 27 successful local projects and plans across the Highlands.

Thanks to funding of 3,280 from both the Skye, and the Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh LEADER Area Partnerships the Skye & Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations is now able to organise, deliver and evaluate a capacity building event aimed at benefiting community groups in Skye and Wester Ross.

30,000 has been awarded to the Tain Initiative Group for the Tain Rose Garden Development which will involve the creation of an attractive and accessible garden for use by local people and tourists and will include an events space and a sensory garden.

Two projects in Wester Ross are to receive a total of 50,000 with 10,000 going to the Scottish Wildlife Trust for the "Living with the Sea" outdoor marine banner display projects and 40,000 to the Highland Museum of Childhood to go towards providing an education centre, a community archive and a collections store.

In Lochaber 78,844 has been allocated to six projects including 37,786 for the Isle of Rum Community Trust to create a Ranger service that will develop and enhance the visitor experience, in conjunction with the community and SNH and 2,700 to produce a consultancy study for the proposed West End Regeneration project in Fort William.

In Caithness 33,348 has been allocated towards three projects including 13,198 to Dunbeath Heritage Centre for Dunbeath Fishings project exploring the local history of fishings in Dunbeath including the renovation of the oldest vernacular fishings building and new heritage displays.

Leader is a European programme aimed at enhancing rural communities through helping those active in rural areas to consider the long term potential of their area. Local Communities can apply for 10 million of funding available to them over the next 5 years with a further 3 million available to assist strategic Highland-wide projects.

The main LEADER themes include local development strategies; culture and heritage; training and learning; access to activities, facilities and services; land, environment and access to the countryside; renewables; tourism; and social enterprise and micro-businesses.

The Highland Council, on behalf of the Highland Community Planning Partnership is the lead partner for the programme.

Leader Programme Manager Nicole Wallace said: "Good progress is been made by local communities and all 11 Leader Local Plans are now underway with 5 completed, 4 on-going and 2 at the initial stage. These Plans are important as they allow local communities to administer and prioritise how their allocated money can best be spent. It is very encouraging to see money now filtering through and projects getting ready to start. We look forward over the coming months to providing more updates on the progress of these and many more projects."

Initially 7 million has been allocated to the eleven Local Area Partnership Groups for the first 3 years of operation with a further 3 million once the 7m is committed and spent.

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning, Environment and Development Committee said: "This injection of European money can make a real difference and help people realise their ambitions to locally deliver projects and activities. It is great to see that money has already started to filter out to projects and I encouraging communities to make the most of this opportunity by coming forward with their ideas and applications."

Full information about the LEADER programme and details on how to apply for funding can be found by visiting the website www.highlandleader.com. The minimum grant award is 1,000 and the maximum award will be determined by Local Area Partnership Groups.

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