North-east coastal projects to receive Scottish Crown Estate marine funding

A host of exciting North-east coastal projects are to benefit from the first tranche of marine-sourced funding from the Scottish Crown Estate.

As part of the devolution settlement following the Scottish Independence Referendum, revenue generated from the Crown Estate’s marine assets within inshore waters now accrues to the Scottish Government, which in turn, devolved a proportion of it to the 32 local authorities.

Revenue is generated from activity such as licensing for offshore wind farms, oil and gas pipelines and aquaculture leases.

Aberdeenshire Council’s £328,314 allocation for the current financial year was discussed by the Infrastructure Services Committee when it met on Thursday (January 23).

Councillors heard that the bulk of the funding has been allocated to local authorities with coastlines as part of their areas, with £1,000 allocated to each of the inland authorities.

Aberdeenshire Council’s allocation from the 2017-18 revenue is £328,314, with the ISC agreeing that each of the authority’s four area committees be allocated £12,500 to spend on their own coastal initiatives.

Among the eight proposed funded projects is East Grampian Coastal Partnership’s ‘Turning the Plastic Tide’ which will receive £40,000 to extend its hugely-successful plastic waste project to include the entire Aberdeenshire coastline.

Ythan Community Trust has been awarded £100,000 to help improve access and parking at Newburgh Links to support the ever-increasing numbers of visitors to the seal colony.

Scottish Natural Heritage receives £20,000 to make improvements to parking at St Cyrus beach, while Aberdeenshire Council itself receives £50,000 towards research into opportunities to link the Moray Coast Way with the Formartine and Buchan Way as part of the North-east Highland Way.

Other projects receiving funding include improvements to toilet facilities and disabled access at Balmedie Country Park, refurbishment of pedestrian signage from Fraserburgh town centre to the beach, harbour and Kinnaird Head, development of the Discover Fraserburgh initiative, and new maps and signage to link the Peterhead Prison Museum to the beach, port and town centre via the Peterhead Town Trail.

It was also agreed that unallocated funds from the 2019-20 tranche be carried forward into the next Aberdeenshire bidding round.

Councillors were advised that given the council is likely to receive revenue through this funding stream for many years to come, it is proposed that a policy be developed for its future use over the course of the next six months.

This will enable the formal policy development process to be managed alongside appropriate levels of area and community consultation and pave the way for approaches such as participatory budgeting to be considered for future funding rounds.

ISC chair Cllr Peter Argyle said: “Not only is this funding very welcome, these are truly excellent projects and very worthy of our support. I look forward to seeing our area committees working closely alongside their communities to help develop new initiatives in the years to come.”

Vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “A key aspect of many of the projects which are being funded in the first round is the level of volunteer support they enjoy. I would encourage more of our residents and groups to get their heads together and bid for this funding which will make such a dramatic improvement to their coastal communities.”