A RAFT of community projects are to benefit from a development fund linked to onshore windfarms.

A new visitor centre in the Great Glen and an essential upgrade to an off-grid community hydro electric scheme in Knoydart are among ventures that will share £1 million from SSE's new Highland Sustainable Development Fund.

Funded by SSE's onshore wind farms, the fund is open to all non-profit-making organisations, community groups and charities working in the Highland Council region.

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Over 100 applications were submitted during the first funding round.

An independent panel led by former first minister Lord Jack McConnell awarded 29 projects a total of £1,045,000.

Initiatives that demonstrated transformational impact, innovation and sustainability were given priority for funding..

Panel chairman Lord McConnell said: "The breadth of applications made for tough decisions but I'm delighted at the reach and potential impact of the initiatives we have chosen to support.

"From the tip of Caithness to the sound of Mull, the successful awards will create jobs, revitalise open spaces and strengthen communities.

"I look forward to seeing the benefit this round of funding will bring to the Highlands and to reviewing an equally high standard of applications when the fund reopens in late 2015."

Alan Young, SSE's Managing Director, Corporate Affairs said: "The projects we have funded today, from the support given to remote rural communities to the creation of new career opportunities for young people, will have a significant impact on the people of the Highlands."