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Over £500,000 still available From LEADER for projects in Sutherland

5th June 2017

Two more projects in Sutherland are set to benefit from funding from the Highland LEADER Programme.

The Sutherland Local Area Partnership has recently approved additional funding totalling £72,061. Potential applicants are encouraged to come forward for a share of the £505,266 still available for projects benefiting communities in the area.
Funding of £49,998 has been awarded for a new play area in Kinlochbervie. Christine Mackenzie from Kinlochbervie Planning for Play Association said: "The existing play area is 25 years old and desperately needs modernising. The community wants to have a better facility where children can come together to play in safety, exercise and socialize.
"A number of new innovative pieces of play equipment will be installed, along with safety surfacing, which will improve the play experience for local children as well as visitors to the area."

North West Highlands Geopark will also benefit under the latest funding round, with an award of £22,062 from LEADER.

Peter Harrison, Geologist and Business Manager for the Geopark said: “The Geopark was initially set up in 2004 and granted UNESCO Global Geopark Status in 2015. We want to build on this and further develop the products and infrastructure we offer visitors. The grant from LEADER will allow us to employ a Business Development Officer to develop a membership scheme for businesses which will allow for better networking within the geopark. We will explore options of developing a geofood trail and other themed marketing products such as a geoarts and geocrafts trail to provide a better experience for visitors and in turn support local businesses.

“Funding from LEADER will also contribute towards an Autumn Geo-festival for 2017 and 2018 and new signage along the Rock Route and lesser travelled Pebble Routes which we hope will encourage visitors to take the side roads from the North Coast 500 route."

The Sutherland Local Area Partnership is jointly chaired by Anne Sutherland and Frances Gunn. Anne Sutherland said: “The Local Area Partnership has developed an Action Plan outlining community development priorities for Sutherland. The projects will contribute towards the delivery of the Plan with the play park providing an improved community facility for local people and visitors to Kinlochbervie.

“LEADER funding will allow the North West Highlands Geopark to develop further and improve the experience for visitors to the Geopark. The project also provides an opportunity to employ an officer over 18 months, as well as providing economic benefits for businesses and communities in the Geopark.”

Frances Gunn added: “LEADER aims to promote economic and community development within rural areas and is a great source of match-funding to enable projects such as this to be delivered. We would encourage other community groups to get in touch with the LEADER team as grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are available for eligible projects.”

For further information about the Highland LEADER Programme please visit www.highlandleader.com or contact Paula Betts, the LEADER Development Officer for Caithness & Sutherland on 01463 702275 or by emailing paula.betts@highland.gov.uk

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