£723k for fishing community projects in the Borders

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More than £700,000 has been made available to projects that can “make a difference” to fishing communities in the Borders.

Up to £7.6 million is to be shared out across 13 local authorities as part of the nation-wide scheme, which is to provide funding for projects that benefit Scottish fishing communities.

The money will be available for tourism, food and drink, renewable energy, training and environmental protection initiatives.

£4.2 million is available under Axis 4 the European Fisheries Fund, which the 13 councils involved need to co-finance in order to access. For the Scottish Borders up to £723,303 is available to local groups, including any local authority contribution.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said he hoped it would help “fragile fishing communities” become “more resilient”.

He said: “The social and economic factors affecting fishing communities in the Borders region are, of course, closely aligned to the fishing industry. It’s important that we support these communities to diversify and prosper.

“By allocating funding at a local level, communities can be empowered to only back projects that improve quality of life and deliver genuine benefits for the local community.”

Eligible councils have created Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) to consider applications and decide how the funding will be allocated locally.

Speaking on behalf of the Borders Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), East Berwickshire Councillor Michael Cook said: “I am pleased that the Scottish Government has allocated this funding to help support our fishing communities in the Borders. This should see a total investment of £1 million into the local economy.

“We have seen many great examples across Europe of similar projects that have gone a long way to support communities to deal with some of the pressures faced by fishing communities. This is a particularly positive announcement for East Berwickshire where fishing is at the heart of the community.”

Councillor Vicky Davidson, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development added: “We have been working with local businesses and communities developing project ideas in preparation for an immediate start to this exciting programme.”