£5m boost for scenery, wildlife and cul­ture

Euro­pean fund­ing

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - FRONT PAGE -

Fresh in­vest­ment has been an­nounced by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to help pro­mote the scenery, wildlife and cul­ture of the High­lands and is­lands.

The £5 mil­lion Nat­u­ral and Cul­tural Her­itage Fund, led by Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage (SNH), will open for ap­pli­ca­tions on Mon­day. It is aimed at projects seek­ing to ben­e­fit the area, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of vis­i­tors.

The fund­ing comes through the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Euro­pean Re­gional Devel­op­ment Fund pro­gramme, with match fund­ing from other sources, bring­ing over­all in­vest­ment to more than £7m. The fund will in­vest in around 10 ma­jor new projects and, in ad­di­tion to pro­mot­ing na­ture and cul­ture, will seek to cre­ate and sup­port jobs.

Job cre­ation is cited as a key mea­sure of suc­cess for the fund, with projects en­cour­aged to

“Tourism is an im­por­tant as­pect of the econ­omy”

demon­strate ben­e­fits such as cre­at­ing and sus­tain­ing em­ploy­ment, busi­nesses and ser­vices in the lo­cal com­mu­nity. Ap­pli­ca­tions can be sub­mit­ted from the pub­lic, vol­un­tary or third sec­tors.

The fund is not suitable for ap­pli­ca­tions from the pri­vate sec­tor, in­di­vid­u­als, com­mer­cial en­ter­prise or or­gan­i­sa­tions run en­tirely by vol­un­teers.

Fiona Hys­lop, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Cul­ture, Tourism and Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, said: “Tourism is an im­por­tant as­pect of the High­lands and is­lands econ­omy, with many com­mu­ni­ties de­pen­dent on vis­i­tors who are at­tracted to the re­gion by its beau­ti­ful land­scapes, wildlife, her­itage and cul­ture.

“The Nat­u­ral and Cul­tural Her­itage Fund will tar­get re­sources ac­cord­ingly to more re­mote and ru­ral parts of the re­gion, sup­port­ing much­needed jobs and bring­ing ad­di­tional eco­nomic and social ben­e­fits.”

SNH chief ex­ec­u­tive Francesca Osowska said: “This new fund presents fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties to show how in­vest­ing in the en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture of the High­lands and is­lands can bring sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fits for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. SNH has al­ready met with over 100 prospec­tive ap­pli­cants at events across the re­gion to dis­cuss their project ideas.

“We’re very much look­ing for­ward to hear­ing even more peo­ple’s ideas and help­ing to make them hap­pen, giv­ing vis­i­tors an even bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence and see­ing the re­wards for com­mu­ni­ties in the com­ing years.”

SCENIC: Beauty spots such as the Three Sis­ters in Glen­coe will be pro­moted us­ing money from the Nat­u­ral and Cul­tural Her­itage Fund

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