ECO and outdoors projects across the Borders receive a boost this month thanks to cash from the Scottish Government.
Scottish Borders Council applied to Holyrood for money from the government’s Carbon Reduction Fund and this week announced it had won £218,000 for low carbon plans.
SBC’s economic development spokesman, Councillor Stuart Bell said: “They’re brilliant [projects] and it’s excellent there’s been a reflection [at Scottish Government level] of the desire in the Borders to invest in low carbon.
“We’re very pleased the government is funding these projects and we are confident the works will make a significant difference to communities where the carbon agenda is high on their list of concerns.”
Work is under way on the off-road route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders linking Peebles, Cardrona and Innerleithen via the former railway line. £71,672 of the government money will go on surfacing the line between Cardrona and Innerleithen, with that work set for completion this summer.
Councillor Bell, who lives in Clovenfords, also welcomed nearly £60,000 going towards finishing the last few hundred metres of the off-road path between Galashiels and the village.
He said: “There’s been considerable pressure from Clovenfords village to complete the path because it’s become an unsafe section of road that people need to walk along. It’s important it is completed.”
He added: “The longer-term aspiration of both [sustainable transport charity] Sustrans and SBC is to see a cycleway between Galashiels and Peebles.”
£8,000 of the government money is to go into gauging local interest and looking at a biking and walking link between Oxton, Lauder and Blainslie. A council spokesman said there would be a “feasibility study to determine views, designs and costs”.
Nearly £50,000 will go on providing bus shelters in towns and villages across the region to encourage more bus use and £18,500 is going to go towards buying bicycles for use by schools taking part in SBC’s education and lifelong learning department’s On Yer Bike initiative.
About £3,000 will be spent on studies into local food production and distribution and interest in that, with a further £3,000 going to develop a business plan for a community-based food-growing initiative in Selkirk, involving the community centre and local community groups including elderly, youth groups and young families.
£4,000 will be spent on assessing the potential for a biomass district heating network for communities without gas, with a further £5,000 going on studying the potential for kiln drying and assessing the interest and potential for inward investment by energy sector companies in timber-drying kilns and contract timber drying services to encourage the development of the local timber-processing industry.
Minister for environment and climate change, south Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to tackling climate change and doing all we can to help communities reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable.
“This investment will help local people to grow their own produce and cut food waste.
“It will also encourage more people in the Borders to get on their bikes and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits cycling brings.
“I am also pleased to see the council will improve the public transport experience through the new bus shelters we’re funding throughout the region.”
The cash is to be used by the end of the month.