£1.4M funding boost

RURAL funding of more than £1million will be channelled into the Borders this year.

The £1.4million of public money will be divided among 16 projects aimed at boosting the local economy.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The funding will support a wide variety of projects in the Scottish Borders, from building new storage facilities to support the local seed and ware potato market to the development of a cycle and walking trail to boost tourism in the region.”

The local cash is part of £20million rural priorities funding being spent across the country which Scottish Government officials say will create about 1,200 jobs.

A quarter will be spent on helping new farming entrants.

Local projects approved in this round include M&K Prentice of Hutton, near Berwick, being awarded £100,000 towards a seed and ware potatoes store which will include a refrigeration and ventilation system to maintain stock quality.

“This will provide increased opportunities for the sale of ware potatoes to the pre-packed sector,” a Scottish Government statement said. “The moving of storage and packing of seed potatoes into the Borders will also help to meet an increasing overseas demand for exports and create approximately eight seasonal jobs,”

Newcastleton adventure company Rock UK gained £222,127 to develop a trail and bridge at the village. The aim is to boost local tourism and the economy by rerouting visitors to the 7stanes mountain bike and forest walking trail into the centre of Newcastleton, where the new trail will start and end.

“An estimated 50,000 visitors use the trail every year and by developing the bridge link, a new section of trail and improved signage, this aims to provide economic benefits for the whole village. The project expects to create four full-time and four temporary jobs,” said officials.

Borders projects gaining help in previous rounds include Cleughead Farm, near Bonchester Bridge, last year being awarded around £112,000 to protect and improve biodiversity including planting 14 acres of native woodland within the Wolfhopelee site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Two years ago Whim Farm near Peebles was granted £745,000 to convert two chicken sheds to improve animal welfare.

In 2009 Roxburghe Estates received £251,000 to enhance habitats over five years at Rawburn and Byrecleuch farms covering almost 11,120 acres near Longformacus, while Upper Nisbet Farm received £7,500 for a trailer to safely transport schoolchildren and others on farm visits. The same year almost £265,000 went to farmer Simon Clark at Blackhope, near Heriot for projects to increase biodiversity and repair dykes, lay hedges and create ponds on the 3,000-acre Moorfoot SSSI on his 4,000-acre farm.

Near Yetholm, Calroust farm owner David Craven was given almost £300,000 to plant more than 190 acres of alder, ash, upland oak and birch woodland by Calroust Burn on his ground in the Cheviot hills.

Rural priorities is a funding section of the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) which aims to bring environmental, social and economic benefits.

Mr Lochhead said: “I am delighted that almost £5million of this [year’s] funding is targeted at supporting new entrants to farming, a key priority which the government has outlined to enhance the future of Scottish agriculture. A further £11million of the total will support climate change targets, a key national outcome, which will also help improve the viability of existing farming businesses.

“Over the past five years, rural priorities has delivered an impressive £548million of Scottish Government and EU funding into thousands of projects, resulting in a diverse range of benefits to rural Scotland, while stimulating business activity and supporting the economy.”