Payout for quarrying communities

The Scottish Executive has announced the successful bidders for the latest round of grants for environmental renewal projects for communities living in the shadow of quarries.

Similar to Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, which sees some of the revenue raised from waste disposal ploughed back into those communities which house the landfills, Scotland’s Community Environmental Renewal Scheme seeks to fund environmental projects in the vicinity of active quarries.

This year funding of £1.24 million is to be allocated to 29 projects.

Visiting a project in Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Environment Minister Michael Russell announced the successful applicants.

Recipients include the RSPB Mersehead Reserve in Southwick which will receive £80,000 towards the redevelopment of a derelict farmhouse into a community and learning facility.

The project will provide space for environmental learning, a meeting area for the local community and new opportunities for conservation volunteering.

Speaking at the reserve, Mr Russell said: “The Community Environmental Renewal Scheme is designed to help communities across Scotland living in the vicinity of quarrying activity to boost their quality of life through restoring their local environment.

“Community action can make a real difference in improving environments and changing attitudes. This grant scheme supports our objective of creating a greener Scotland – by improving Scotland’s natural and built environment and the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.”

Chris Rollie, RSPB Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway area manager added: “This is fantastic news for Mersehead Reserve and the Scottish Solway. This funding, together with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant through the Sulwath Connections Area Landscape Project, will allow us to transform the old farmhouse into an education and training centre with volunteer accommodation, so we will be able to give local school children and other groups the opportunity to learn more about the wonderful nature on their doorstep.

“It is especially pleasing that the Scottish government is backing our vision, and that the Minister has come along to see the plans for himself.”

Other projects to be funded include the creation of a shore side footpath on Barra, improvements to a nature reserve in Kirkintilloch, and creation of a new park, paths, plants and picnic area in Finstown, Orkney.

The scheme is administered by Forward Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Executive, using funds from the Aggregates Levy.

The scheme supports projects directed at the provision, restoration, protection or the promotion of understanding of landscape, habitats and local biodiversity, the built or cultural environment, including historic, geological or archaeological heritage, or community recreational amenities.

This is the first tranche of projects in the 2007-08 scheme. There was a second application deadline date of June 27.

The remainder of the total available funding of £1.75 million will be allocated later this year.

David Gibbs

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