Three key Highland infrastructure projects reach completion

Three tourism infrastructure projects in Highland which benefited from the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and LEADER funding have been completed.

Work on the slipways at Cromarty and Nigg, additional car parking at Glenfinnan viaduct and Skye’s Old Man of Storr Footpath Improvement Project have are all ready to enhance visitor experiences at all three sites.

There has been a 30% growth in the traffic on the Nigg - Cromarty Ferry and Cromarty Community Development Trust wanted to provide improved slipways for the Cromarty-Nigg ferry to protect the lifeline service and make the slips big enough to cater for a larger ferry that can take up to 16 cars and larger vehicles such as motorhomes.

A £300k RTIF grant was awarded and split between the slipways and the Cromarty campsite project to cater for the increasing number of motorhomes. £210,654 was allocated for the slipways. The project is match funded by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highland CouncilBeatrice Windfarm Fund, Wakelin Trust, Aberdeen University, Global Energy, Cromarty Community Development Trust and Nigg Community Council.

Chair of the Easter Ross area committee, Cllr Fiona Robertson, said: “I am thrilled the slipway project has been completed. Investment of this kind in Easter Ross is fantastic to see and will help the area become more resilient when dealing with the thousands of visitors who visit the area every year.”

Meanwhile, additional parking has been created at Glenfinnan to cater for 100 cars and 10 motorhomes/buses. This was in response to demand placed on the area by fans of the Harry Potter films to the viaduct and the steam train.

In October 2018, the Highland Council in partnership with Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO secured £269,906 of funding from the first round of the Scottish Government’s Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund managed by VisitScotland.

The fund aims to support projects that focus on improving the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure or negative impacts on communities due to the significant increases in visitor numbers.

The project was matched by £115,674 in LEADER funding which is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP). The fund aimed at promoting economic and community development within rural areas.

Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson, commented on behalf of himself and the area’s other elected members, Ben Thompson and Denis Rixson, saying: “We are thrilled this work has now been completed. Glenfinnan has so much to offer for such a small constrained area through the National Trust visitor Centre, the iconic monument and viaduct coupled with the loch, the architecture and location of the church.

“It is a magnet for tourists who will now be able to enjoy it for longer, with less hassle, through this project.”

In addition to the car park, the Highland Council in partnership with Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO also secured additional funding of £53,704 from round two of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund with a successful Crowd Funder to match, organised by the community for the final phase of the Glenfinnan Viaduct project. This project will see a new footbridge and path link the new car park to the existing path to the viaduct, preventing visitors having to walk on the main trunk road.

The Old Man of Storr Footpath Improvement Project designed to enhance visitor access while protecting iconic landscapes and internationally important habitats is funded by both the Rural, Tourism & Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) at £184,508 and Scottish Government Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) £79,075.

In relation to the Old Man of Storr Footpath Improvement Project, local councillor John Gordon said: “I am delighted that this work has now been completed. The work at Storr will make a significant difference to the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike, not only will the work protect and care for the environment so there is better capacity and will help facilitate visitors at a very busy and iconic site.”

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