Coalfield projects to receive £2.5m boost

Coalfield projects to receive £2.5m boost

A group which plans to transform the former mining heartland of East Ayrshire is set to receive a £2.56m funding boost from the National Lottery.

The Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership is hoping to restore the natural and built heritage of the area, which spans 250 sq km (97 sq miles), and includes eight sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).

The group will also aim to create opportunities for leisure, tourism, skills and training.

Planned projects include restoration works to the banks of the River Lugar, the creation of new paths to improve opportunities for walking and cycling, apprenticeships in landscape management and the development of a sustainable fuel source using river rushes to create briquettes.

The partnership has received £194,000 in development funding from the Heritage Lottery Funding to draw up plans in more detail.

If the plans are accepted by HLF during the second stage of the funding process, it will receive £2.56m to bring them to fruition.

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "The landscape partnership provides a unique framework with which to tackle large-scale environmental degradation and we have seen it work very successfully in other areas of Scotland.

"I am delighted that, thanks to players of the National Lottery, the communities of East Ayrshire will be able to benefit from this approach.

"The industrial character of East Ayrshire means that people often don't recognise that its natural resources and meandering rivers make it rich in both built and natural heritage.

"The Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership will help people reconnect with their natural heritage, strengthening their sense of pride and inspiring stewardship of the land around them."

Douglas Reid, the leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: "This is fantastic news for East Ayrshire and will allow us to work up the detail of our ambitious scheme, devised in partnership with our communities.

"Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to realise our ambitions, carrying out work in our coalfield communities which would not otherwise have proved possible."