£380k invested as islands secure local management

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A £380,000 investment by The Crown Estate to develop marine tourism on North Uist was announced today at the Our Islands, Our Future conference in Orkney.

In addition, the island of Gigha in Argyll & Bute has become the third community to benefit from The Crown Estate’s new Local Management Agreement (LMA) programme designed to empower local organisations to manage coastal assets.

The projects are the latest phase of its ongoing work with Scotland’s coastal communities.

The LMA will see the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust develop its plans for Ardminish Bay, following a grant of £271,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund, which is administered by the Big Lottery. It will pave the way for a lease for a walkway and pontoons and an agreement for a revised mooring area with room for expansion.

In addition, The Crown Estate’s £380,000 investment in Comann na Mara’s pontoons project at Lochmaddy, North Uist, will enable them to progress plans for permanent and visitor berthing and safe landing for cruise ship vessels. Comann na Mara, the first organisation in the UK to secure an LMA, will now seek planning permission with pontoons expected to be installed by spring 2014.

LMAs give not-for-profit organisations access to areas of the foreshore and seabed, with specialised support from Crown Estate, to develop proposals for projects that will deliver direct benefits to the local community. Once proposals are developed, organisations can acquire the right to manage the assets, enabling them to implement their plans. There are now three LMAs in place covering projects at Lochmaddy, Gigha and Portree (the Skye project will increase capacity at the harbour, install a breakwater and a new slipway).

Alan Laidlaw, Rural & Coastal Portfolio Manager, said: “We aim to ensure that Scotland’s coastal communities continue to benefit from our expertise and are able to realise their own ambitions and aspirations through local management. These recent agreements (LMAs) and our investment signal The Crown Estate’s commitment to working with coastal communities.”

Gus Macaulay of Comman na Mara said “This investment from The Crown Estate is a huge step forward for our project and builds on close working between the two organisations over the last year. As a community body, local management combined with the support and resources of The Crown Estate is a winning formula that will enable North Uist to reap rewards from the growth in marine tourism.”

Commenting on the new LMA, Gordon Watson, Chair of Gigha Trading Limited, said: “This agreement with The Crown Estate will give local management of the walkway and pontoon and pave the way for initial work to expand visitor moorings. Marine tourism is critical to the west coast and is worth up to £300 million each year to the Scottish economy – we want Gigha to tap into that potential. We are very pleased to have secured this agreement and look forward to working with The Crown Estate.”

In addition, following a full re-tender The Crown Estate has recently appointed Bidwells to act as its managing agent for the coastal estate in Scotland, with a remit to ensure community liaison is at the heart of its coastal activity. Bidwells has offices in Perth, Fort William and Inverness. Their network of coastal officers will provide local links and ensure that The Crown Estate is working closely with local groups and residents.