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Community / Projects from Fair Isle to Unst receive cash boost from Crown Estate fund

Fair Isle.

A NUMBER of grants for projects from Fair Isle to Unst – via Papa Stour – have been approved by councillors.

The money comes from the Crown Estate Fund, which is being renamed the Shetland Islands Council Coastal Communities Fund.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday six grants were approved totalling more than £400,000.

Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust will receive up to £100,000 for the rebuild of the island’s bird observatory.

Councillors were told that the project costs are just shy of £6.9 million and that the project – which previously stalled after a tender for the work proved too expensive – is expected to commence in August.

North Yell Development Council meanwhile secured up to £100,000 for pontoons for a new Cullivoe marina.

The project is due to get underway in September, with costs standing at nearly £300,000.

The Papa Stour History and Community Group will also benefit from nearly £100,000 for a kirk development project.

It plans to upgrade the island’s church to allow it to be used as a venue for a variety of community purposes, such as a visitor centre and music venue.

Work is due to get underway in March next year and the total project cost is over half a million pounds.

Councillors were pleased to see a project of this size, which already has some other funding in place, proposed for a small island like Papa Stour.

The Swan Trust is also receiving nearly £84,000 for a project which includes employing a ‘strategic priorities and community links officer’ as well as redesigning the boat’s forepeak.

Among the priorities for the officer will be to prepare funding applications and creating/coordinating a number of projects and partnerships.

They will also work in expanding the trust’s support for the 2023 Tall Ships, as well as progressing its aspiration to create a dedicated berth for Swan.

Meanwhile Seafood Shetland was given a grant of up to £54,328 for rapid monitoring to support harmful algal bloom and biotoxin alerts for local aquaculture.

It will incorporate automated harmful algal bloom alerts into a service for Shetland finfish and shellfish aquaculture businesses which has been developed and enhanced over many years.

Finally, the Uyeasound Hall in Unst was given just over £50,000 to make the building more energy efficient by upgrading the roof, windows and doors.

Councillors welcomed all of the proposals, although North Isles member Alec Priest said a funding cap of greater than the existing £100,000 could have benefitted the Fair Isle Bird Observatory project.

The council run fund distributes revenue generated by Crown Estate assets around Shetland out to 12 nautical miles following devolution of management.

The total initial allocation received was around £2.4 million, with £1.6 million already committed to local projects.

The fund can provide up to 90 per cent of project costs, with grants available between £10,000 and £100,000.

Applications for more than £50,000 have to go in front of councillors.

A review of the fund is set to take place soon, although officials are waiting to learn the value of the next tranche of income before bringing it in front of councillors.

Economic development service manager Tommy Coutts said the fund is currently oversubscribed when it comes to the number of applications.