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Five projects around Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh have been successful in attracting £1.1million of funding from the £3million available in the first round of the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).
Some of the RTIF funding will be used by Highland Council to create scenic layby viewpoints along the Bealach na Ba (Lochcarron North Coast 500). This project will receive £129,325 from RTIF and a further £55,425 from Highland Council.
To address the current issues at Storr, Skye, the council is investing £200,000 to expand the car park, with £200,000 from LEADER and an addition £128,571, plus £300,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to improve the facilities that are currently available with the addition of public toilets, motorhome facilities, interpretation, visitor information and improved access to a wider public.
A John Muir Trust community project involving composting toilets and additional car parking at Blabheinn, Skye, was another successful application.
Additional money has also been invested by the council in the other iconic sites on Skye, including the Fairy Pools (£100,000 from the council and £200,000 from LEADER), Quiraing (£90,000 from the council) and Neist Point (£65,000 from the council).
Glenfinnan in Lochaber secured £269,906 of funding for additional parking to cater for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes and buses. This will improve the visitor experience of the large number of tourists attracted to the viaduct and steam train after seeing the location featured in the popular Harry Potter films.
The Glenfinnan project is still waiting to hear if it has secured match funding from LEADER, due to be announced on October 31.
Members agreed details of further projects would be shared with the council’s tourism working group prior to submission to a second round of the Rural Infrastructure Fund. The council is planning to submit up to 20 expressions of interest although the final number may change if additional community projects are brought forward before the deadline.
Chairman of the environment, development and infrastructure committee, councillor Allan Henderson welcomed the funding, saying: ‘£1.1 million is a significant amount of money towards these projects and the council has also contributed over £600,000 investment to make these projects happen. This is good news for the Highlands and I would like to recognise the work of all the staff and community leaders who have driven these projects forward.’