A £6.5 million bid is being made by Scottish Borders Council to two EU funds that provide support for fishing and rural communities to diversify and develop.
Over the next six years the council will be the lead partner in a number of projects focusing on social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas, as well as increasing employment, economic growth and social cohesion in coastal areas that depend on fishing. Although what will happen to the allocated EU funding beyond 2016, should Scotland’s status in Europe change as a result of next week’s referendum, is uncertain.
The £1 million bid for funding from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund looks for £800,000 for Scottish Borders and £200,000 East Lothian, including co-finance.
There are natural links between the fishing communities of East Lothian and East Berwickshire, and a joint Fisheries Local Action Group is proposed for the area, with East Lothian and Scottish Borders funding separately ring-fenced. Staff and other costs would be shared across both areas.
In 2011-2013, the Eyemouth & East Berwickshire Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) granted £677,000 of the £1.5 million spent on 14 projects in the Berwickshire coastal area. All grant funding is now allocated, and projects should to be complete by June 2015.
The Scottish Borders LEADER 2007 - 2013 programme supported 71 projects, and the Local Action Group (LAG) invested £3.3m grant funding in projects led by community groups, social enterprises, business networks and the public sector. Total programme spend including local match funding has been £5.7m.
A detailed business plan has been developed and final submissions will be made to the Scottish Government, who administer the fund, by the end of September, with funding allocated to the successful bids by December 2014.
The new LEADER programme is expected to launch in early 2015 and the fishing programme later in the year.