Local initiatives receive funding boost

SEVERAL local initiatives, including a community caravan park and a heritage project, have benefited from the latest round of LEADER funding.

Over £500,000 has been distributed to 12 different initiatives across Aberdeenshire which were approved by the Rural Local Action Group, bringing the total number of projects now approved to 102 with total funds of over £3.3million committed to date.

Local intitiatives given a boost in round 10 of the funding include Inverbervie Caravan Park which has been awarded over £80,000, a Mearns Heritage Project run by the Forest View Centre in Stonehaven which will receive £20,961, while broadband problems in Arbuthnott will be addressed with a £45, 353 grant.

It is one of four applications approved under the Rural Aberdeenshire Broadband Initiative which will pilot two technologies to enhance broadband in Kinmuck, Boyndie, Ballogie and Arbuthnott.

Isabella Williamson, Secretary of Arbuthnott Community Association, said: “We are delighted and very excited that the community of Arbuthnott has been awarded LEADER funding under the Rural Aberdeenshire Broadband Initiative. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity to address the long term problems experienced with Broadband in the area and the social benefit to the whole community in having an enhanced Broadband capacity will be invaluable.”

LAG Chairperson Belinda Miller, said: “The broadband projects will not only improve internet connectivity for four rural communities, but will support economic development through enhanced broadband for local businesses within these communities. This initiative aligns closely to Aberdeenshire LEADER’s strategic objective for a progressive rural economy.”

Alick Smith, chairman of the Royal Burgh of Inverbervie Community Caravan Park Ltd said: “The committee of the Royal Burgh of Inverbervie Community Caravan Park Ltd are pleased to announce the award of £83,195 towards the total project cost of £206,000 to provide practical facilities to all persons visiting our caravan site whether residential or touring.

“This award will enable the committee to proceed with securing the additional funding required to enable the project to commence.

“We are grateful to the LEADER Programme for the award and the team’s assistance throughout the process and cannot thank them enough.”

Claire Will, manager of the Forest View Centre in Stonehaven, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded LEADER funding for The Mearns Heritage Project 1980 - 2013. This means that we will be able to take the Project to the coastal and rural communities of the Mearns, and involve people with learning disabilities, along with community and heritage groups.

“Without this funding the Project could not have gone ahead, and we are grateful for all the support and guidance during the application process. This is a great present for our service

users, who will form the Project Team, and will contribute to building new Heritage knowledge and research.”

Vicky Thomson, Rural LEADER Co-ordinator said: “As with previous applications, LEADER is attracting a wide range of projects from throughout Aberdeenshire, comprising both revenue and marketing projects. Other capital projects include improving the infrastructure of some of our village halls, which are key social hubs in local communities.”

LEADER is an innovative rural development programme which aims to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity in rural communities through locally driven rural development initiatives and projects.

LEADER is funded by the Scottish Government and the European Commission with match funding from public bodies and the project groups. The Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER Programme was launched in June 2008.

New applications for round 11 of LEADER have been received and will be assessed on March 14. The closing date for round 12 applications is April 26.

Details of all approved projects to date and information on the application process are available on the Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER website - see external links.