Press & Journal

Neil MacDonald, chairman of Scourie Community Development Company with one of the exhibits which will eventually go on display at Scourie Rocks. 
Image credit: sandy mccook/dct media.

History is in the making as dozens of Highland communities start to see welcome cash injections thanks to the first ever pay-out by the coastal communities fund.

From harbour renovations, toilets and carparks to paths, playing fields and pontoons, groups have been awarded sums ranging from £5,000 to £100,000.

The new fund is derived from revenue generated by Scottish Government Crown Estate marine assets, with Highland being awarded more than £3m this time around- with another allocation due in October, and more to come each year.

So far £1.6m has been awarded to 42 projects across Sutherland, Skye and Lochaber, based on decisions made by local councillors.

The criteria for the funding is to support economic regeneration and sustainable development around coastal areas, with projects expected to prioritise economic recovery, community resilience, climate change mitigation and rural depopulation.

In the view of Highland economist Tony Mackay, the new funding could support and create jobs.

He said: “It is difficult to predict the economic benefits in advance but previous studies show that the total benefits could be double the initial expenditure.

“The fund’s £3.3 million could result in total local benefits of over £6 million.

“I expect the fund to help support 200-250 existing jobs and possibly create 25-30 new ones.”

He went on: “There has been very little investment in our coastal communities in recent years and tourism increased substantially until the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago.