A project to revitalise the River Leven in Fife as a great regional asset has received more than £300,000 in funding.

One of the first initiatives of The Leven Catchment Project has been awarded £250,000 through Sustrans Scotland’s Community Links scheme. A further £65,000 has been granted from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s Water Environment Fund.

The funding from Sustrans and SEPA will finance feasibility and scoping work, starting this month, for the “Connectivity Project”.

This is one of a series of smaller initiatives designed to help deliver the wider vision for the region and focuses on a 5km (three mile) stretch of the River Leven at Levenmouth.

Plans include developing a series of paths to connect the isolated communities along the river and unlocking opportunities on vacant and derelict land in the area.

“The River Leven catchment in mid-Fife was historically home to several hundred mills and factories, with a proud population of miners and workers in manufacturing industries,” explains SEPA water specialist Pauline Silverman.

“But there are significant environmental challenges in the area and the river has become a barrier between communities, disconnecting people and towns from each other.

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Loch Leven, Scotland

“The purpose of the Leven Catchment Project is to achieve environmental improvements to spark new ways of working with key partners and communities to create social and economic opportunities.”

Key partners in the project with SEPA so far are Fife Council, Forth Rivers Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Sustrans, Fife College and Scottish Water.

The vision also includes the River Leven catchment being a dynamic hub for social enterprise, youth and education, and the region’s natural environment that will support a diverse ecology and celebrate its social history.

Reconnecting people and place is a key focus of the initiative and plans involve developing a wide range of linkages along the River Leven between the catchment communities, Loch Leven – where the river originates – and the coast.

By 2030, the partners’ goals include the region becoming a “go to” destination and tourism a key economic contributor.

Community Links is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Sustrans Scotland, the sustainable transport charity, in partnership with local authorities, statutory bodies and educational institutions for the creation of cycle network infrastructure for everyday journeys.

Karen Ridgewell, Project Co-ordinator for Sustrans Scotland, said: “We look forward to engaging with the local communities to help make new paths and spaces for walking, cycling, scootering and wheeling.”

SEPA’s remit includes reducing barriers to fish migration, improving water quality, and making physical modifications to the rivers.

The Water Environment Fund is an annual grant provided by the Scottish Government and administered by SEPA to improve the physical condition of water environments that have been damaged by historical activities.

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THE SCOTTISH ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AGENCY (SEPA)

A non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government oversees environmental regulation, monitors and reports on the state of the environment, raises awareness of environmental issues, and resolves environmental harms. 

www.sepa.org.uk

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