Funding could lead to a level playing field

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Leader of The Highland Council.

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Lochaber and Skye could benefit from a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund aimed at levelling up the whole country as it makes its exit from the EU.

Highland Council is working at pace to submit bids into the Levelling Up and Community Renewal funds which will be made available by the UK Government in 2022.

The Highlands can submit one transport bid and one bid for each Westminster constituency.

At the council meeting on May 13 it was agreed that the bid for the Ross, Skye and Lochaber Constituency will focus on a comprehensive regeneration scheme to develop the gateways to the Outdoor Capital and Eilean a’ Cheo.

This is intended to comprise investment in physical regeneration of cultural and heritage assets such as the Nevis Centre and the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre as well as the important transport related assets of Portree Harbour – as part of the wider Portree regeneration schemes – and potentially the Corpach Marina.

Speaking on the progress being made Councillor Margaret Davidson, leader of Highland Council, said: ‘These are ambitious and exciting projects and the council is working extremely hard to develop these bids within a very tight timescale.

‘I have had very positive discussions with our MPs over the last few days and they have been most supportive, not just over our proposed bids, but also they share our very real concerns over the metrics that the Government used to determine our ranking for these funds.’

‘I have raised these concerns directly with UK Government ministers and I am hopeful these concerns have been taken onboard.’

Bids for projects in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituencies are also being put forward.

The transport bid would relate to the North Coast 500 route, tied in with an expansion of Electric Vehicle Charging Points and improvements to tourism related infrastructure.