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Coastal communities share in £4m fund to boost growth

Nineteen projects designed to create jobs and training will share £4 million from a fund set up to regenerate coastal areas.

The charities, small businesses and apprenticeship schemes are the first in Scotland selected to receive the grants from the UK Coastal Communities Fund, ranging from £50,000 to £375,000.

They were picked on the basis that they would promote economic growth, jobs, training and business opportunities in their areas.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, who is announcing the move today, said a further £4m will be available to projects in Scotland when applications for the next round of funding open in the new year.The grants include £369,199 for water sports facilities and apprenticeship schemes in Argyll and Bute, and £358,708 to renovate Skye Sailing Club's boathouse in Portree.

A sum of £90,000 was awarded for the regeneration of Irvine Bay in Ayrshire, and £60,000 was awarded to develop Eyemouth Museum in the Borders.

The fund is financed from the coffers of the Crown Estate representing half its marine revenues, which means £4m for Scotland with £1.85m ring-fenced for the Highlands and Islands.

Last year, in a move widely seen as an attempt to undermine the SNP's demands that 100% of our Crown Estate revenues should remain in Scotland, a £23.7m fund was established by the Treasury for the whole of the UK to support the economic development of coastal areas.

The Herald revealed earlier this year the fund had received 174 applications from community bodies in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr Alexander will say: "From Skye to Cumbrae, communities across Scotland are going to benefit from this £4m investment. Growing up on Colonsay, I know both the opportunities and the challenges coastal communities face."

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the new job opportunities and tourism boost from the projects, but added that the Crown Estate should be fully devolved to Scotland, pointing out it generated £12.3m last year north of the Border.

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