Cash to put lost world on map
Millions pledged for mining area project
A windfall of more than £ 2.5 million is to help reinject spirit into the old coal communities of East Ayrshire.
The ambitious project, which won funding from the Heritage Lottery, aims to use the landscape and the people to create new opportunities for leisure and tourism.
The Landscape Partnership covers 96 square miles between the River Lugar and River Doon, including 20 sites of special scientific interest ( SSSIs).
Potential projects include an interpretation trail of the lost mining villages, River Lugar restoration works and an arts project to celebrate mining brass bands.
Scottish Natural Heritage also wants to expand the Muirkirk Uplands SSSI by taking in extra land at Anderside Flow.
Lucy Casot from the Heritage Lottery Fund said: “The Landscape Partnership provides a unique framework with which to tackle large- scale environmental degradation.
“East Ayrshire is often perceived as lacking in interest because of its industrial character when in fact its natural resources and meandering rivers make it rich in both built and natural heritage.
“This partnership will help people reconnect with their natural heritage, strengthening their sense of pride and inspiring stewardship of the land around them.”
The area has blanket bog sites, hen harriers and short- eared owls.
Plans include using river rushes to create briquettes, new walking and cycling paths and landscape management apprenticeships.
East Ayrshire Council leader Douglas Reid said: “This will allow us to work up the detail of our ambitious scheme.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of our wonderful partners East Ayrshire Leisure Trust, Central Scotland Green Network, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and Scottish Natural Heritage.”