Renewable energy projects across the Highlands and Islands

An £18 million cash boost will benefit the tourism industry, renewable energy projects and road improvement schemes across the Highlands and Islands.

Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Minister Jim Mather said the money, which has the potential to create over 60 jobs and is from the European Regional Development Fund, would be a vital part of work to protect and strengthen economic recovery both in the region and across Scotland.

Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Minister Jim Mather said:

"This is a significant investment across a wide range of projects which will provide important support to both the economy of the Highlands and Islands and Scotland as a whole. In a competitive process, it is projects such as these which do best as they are clearly aligned with Scottish Government and EU priorities.

"Tourism and renewable energy are areas where Scotland – and the Highlands and Islands in particular – has real and tangible advantages over its competitors.

"Funding to support these industries is vital and it is absolutely right that this funding focuses on those priorities.

"The development of visitor attractions like the facilities at Sumburgh Head, the chambered tomb of Maeshowe and the Highlanders Museum will ensure tourists continue to enjoy a superb visitor experience when they spend time travelling across the region.

"Renewable energy developments in Orkney, Shetland and Caithness will be among the projects supported. That will help create jobs and continue our work to exploit Scotland’s vast green energy potential. These projects merely serve to demonstrate the many advantages of our drive to transform Scotland into a low carbon economy.

"Of course the Highlands and Islands has many remote communities, for whom transport access is a vital issue. That is why improving various roads across the region is an important part of this funding. Above and beyond that, it will help several local economies as Scotland continues to recover from recession."

Projects to benefit include:

• Orkney Marine Renewables Infrastructure receives £3.36 million to develop infrastructure to support the development of facilities linked to the European Marine Energy Centre. That will include the support for a Marine Energy Service Base at Hatson, which will provide facilities for the rapidly growing marine energy industry.

• Lochboisdale Regeneration project will benefit from £1.88 million to enable the continuing development of what is a key development for the Outer Hebrides. Funding will help provision of a site for enhanced transport and cargo facilities, the creation of development land for commercial and business activity and the creation of 2km of road, including a causeway.

• The Valuing Intellectual Assets in the Food and Drink Industry Project will get £115,000 to help producers across the region. The money will help companies fully exploit their products through routes such as the EU Protected Food Name Scheme, which identifies regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. Under this system a named food or drink (separate arrangements exist for wines and spirits) registered at a European level will be given legal protection against imitation throughout the EU.

• Scrabster Harbour Marine Renewable Infrastructure receives £2.5 million towards the development of strategic marine renewable port infrastructure at Scrabster Harbour. The ERDF funding is being requested specifically for investment in quay side facilities including a large lay-down area, lifting pad, lighting and security and is intended to satisfy the needs of the rapidly growing marine energy sector in Scotland. It will also deepen and strengthen the area’s capacity to deliver on the Government’s renewable energy targets.

• Low Carbon Shetland – will receive £800,000 for the development of Thermal Storage to support renewables. This application will support the funding for a large thermal store. This is essentially a hot water tank which can accept electrical energy at a time that suits the grid. This hot water is then used for heating schemes in properties. For example, it will permit the expansion of the existing, successful, Lerwick district heating scheme into new areas of the Town, where it can benefit 30 SME customers. A related project to support Energy Efficiency in Social Housing also receives some £1.3million.

• Biomass CHP: Sustainable Development in the North Highlands will get £3 million to support the establishment of a demonstration Biomass Combined Heat and Power Plant within Caithness, an area where there is an excellent mix of engineering skills ready to be adapted from the nuclear industry to the renewable energy sector.

• Green and Active Travel Improvements receives £224,000 to encourage walking and cycling as alternative forms of transport across the Highlands and Islands.

• Sumburgh Head Restoration and Development Project gets £1.44 million to improve the visitor experience.

• Meashow Project Orkney receives £1.14 million to provide a new visitor centre with access, interpretation, education and community facilities for the chambered tomb of Maeshowe on the Mainland of Orkney.

• The Highlanders Museum Redevelopment Project gets £924,000. The funding will upgrade the museum at Fort George near Inverness, which houses the largest collection of historic artefacts relating to a regiment of the British Army outside London. The project will transform it into a centre of excellence for the military heritage of the entire Highlands and Islands area.

• Sconser Ferry Enhancement receives £500,000 to bring the waiting area for the ferry into the 20th century and provide a modern approach to this the only gateway to Raasay.

• The Vital Highland Roads receives £500,000 to fund improvements to rural and remote roads – A890 Strathcarron – Banacra (Coulags) in Wester Ross some six miles east of Lochcarron, A861 Drynie Hill – Lochaber on the coastal route to the Ardnamurchan peninsula immediately south of Kinlochmoidart and the A838 North Approach Laxford Bridge – North-west Sutherland immediately to the north of Laxford Bridge.

• The A865 Spinal Route Improvements – North/South Uist project receives £500,000 for the upgrading to double track of the poorest sections of single track road between Lochmaddy in North Uist and Daliburgh in South Uist.