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Local communities are being encouraged to team up with neighbours to create projects with Crown Estate Scotland money.
In the first year of devolved management, Crown Estate Scotland’s marine assets generated £1.2 million for coastal communities in the Highlands.
At a recent meeting of the Kinlochleven Community Council, residents were advised to start thinking of ideas to use the money now by Councillor Andrew Baxter.
He said: ‘Since Loch Leven is a sea loch, Kinlochleven will qualify to apply for some of this money but it would be best if the community had some developed ideas to put to the council as soon as possible.
‘I would also advise that if you work with other communities around Loch Leven then you are more likely to receive something. The council would like to get some linked up projects.’
This is the first time that coastal communities will have had access to this sort of funding and it could prove a real boost to some projects.
Kinlochleven Community Council chairwoman, Yvonne Rosie told the Lochaber Times: ‘The village gets a lot of people coming through due to its location on the West Highland Way but also as an events destination. The community openly welcomes the custom but there is still more we can do to accommodate the large numbers of people that come into the village over the busy season.
‘We need to utilise what is available to us so that we can drive initiatives forward.’
Ideas floated at the meeting included some provisions for visiting motorhomes and even creating a network of these around Loch Leven.
According to Ms Rosie, this is likely to be an agenda item at the next meeting of the Association of South Lochaber Community Councils.
There are some locations for motorhomes to stay overnight on the south of Loch Leven but nowhere dedicated for them in Kinlochleven, which often hosts multi-day events, bringing in more motorhomes than can be accommodated.
The Kinlochleven Community Trust (KCT) has received funding from Awards for All to develop the small area of land next to the community toilets for chemical waste disposal and possibly some hook ups for motorhomes.
The director of KCT, Helen Thompson, also had some ideas of what could be done with the Crown Estate funds.
She said: ‘There has been much talk about reviving the old pier area in the village and also getting a boat club off the ground – there is a group of locals that have been looking at the feasibility of a boat club and raising funds for it. This could be one avenue that could be explored.
‘On a bigger scale we are looking at another area of land in the village that could accommodate more motorhomes and be on more of a scale of a touring park.
‘As ever, there’s no shortage of ideas in Kinlochleven, it’s just time and money to get the projects off the ground.’
There is a wider need for this funding in Lochaber, with Caol and Mallaig councillor Allan Henderson saying the best thing to do with it is to improve roads.
Mallaig is the gateway to Skye for a lot of tourists and the roads leading to it from Fort William are in desperate need of repair.
Councillor Henderson told the Lochaber Times that using the money for road improvements gives the ‘fairest spread’ across all areas.
The money from the Crown Estate is available for all coastal communities but the method of distribution is currently under discussion by Highland Council.