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Crown Estate starts sharing its cash

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael is calling on local businesses and communities to apply to a new Crown Estate fund that will invest almost £2 million in the highlands and islands.

The Coastal Communities Fund, worth £23.7 million to the whole of the UK, was first announced in July last year.

Now the UK’s community secretary Eric Pickles has confirmed that the fund will be administered through the Big Lottery Fund with a September deadline for applications.

Mr Pickles said: “I want to encourage quality bids from the many different types of organisations that support economic development including charities, social enterprises, voluntary organisations, local businesses as well as local authorities and local enterprise partnerships.”

The fund accounts for 50 per cent of the revenues generated from the Crown Estate’s marine assets.

Mr Carmichael is a long term critic of the way the Crown Estate manages its vast portfolio, particularly its ownership of half of Scotland’s foreshore and almost the entire seabed out to12 nautical miles. He said the fund was a first step on the way of reform.

“When it comes to the Crown Estate, it has often felt in the past like the northern isles has put a lot in without getting anything back. I know from discussions that I had had with colleagues in Cornwall and elsewhere that this is something that could be said of coastal areas in other parts of the UK as well.

“Ultimately I would like to see much more radical reform of the Crown Estate with more control of the seabed being given to the local communities affected. A fund of this sort, however, is an important first step and having got our foot in the door we should now keep pushing.

“Funding is open to businesses, charities, social enterprises and local authorities and I would encourage all those who have a project that they feel deserves support to consider making an application,” the LibDem MP said.

Further information on the application process will be available online shortly at: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/