Chance to celebrate your local waterways

Scores of events have been postponed or cancelled due to coronavirus, including activities for the Scottish Government’s themed Year of Coasts and Waters.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 7:00 am
Heritage fund launch... Jane Ryder, chairwoman of HES, launched the grants scheme at Newhaven Lighthouse. Community groups have until April 30 to express an interest, then submit an application before May 31, for the chance to secure a grant of between £3000 and £20,000.

But Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which has closed the doors of its staffed properties, is still forging ahead with its Coasts and Waters Heritage Fund.

It hopes that members of community groups across the country will get their heads together, via mobile phones and computers, to bid for grants of between £3000 and £20,000.

While a decision is yet to be taken on whether to reschedule the themed year and stage it in 2021, HES still wants people to make a bid for its £200,000 fund.

Sign up to our daily The Southern Reporter Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Historic Environment Scotland has closed the doors to all its staffed properties across Scotland due to the coronavirus. However, it is still asking communities across the country to bid for cash as part of the themed Year of Coasts and Waters.

Grants will be available for projects which help communities to protect, promote or engage with Scotland’s coasts or waterways.

This includes projects which are developing and implementing measures to enhance resilience and adapt to climate change.

While community groups are being encouraged to apply, the scheme is open to all organisations throughout the country. All applicants, however, should demonstrate how their project will benefit the local community.

This could be through developing traditional skills, stabilising historic or marine structures, hosting community outreach and educational activities, or increasing people’s understanding of Scotland’s coasts and waters heritage.

Launching the climate action plan, Alex Paterson, HES chief executive, said: “Iconic assets are under threat and some may be lost, yet Scotland’s historic environment remains an incredible sustainable asset."

The Coasts and Waters Heritage Fund is a one-off, competitive fund to celebrate Scotland’s themed year and applications will close on Sunday, May 31.

However, interested parties have been asked to express an interest by no later than Thursday, April 30.

Jane Ryder, chairwoman of HES, said: “For thousands of years, communities across Scotland have lived and worked along or near water.

“The Year of Coasts and Waters provides an excellent opportunity to engage people with our coastal and waterway heritage.

“Through this new grant programme, we are encouraging communities not only to celebrate our coasts and waters, but also to explore opportunities to adapt to the effects of climate change and help ensure this important aspect of our heritage is protected for future generations.”

Under the programme, HES expects to fund not-for-profit organisations.

Private owners or commercial organisations are eligible to apply but are not likely to be a priority unless they can demonstrate that public benefit will outweigh any private gain.

Applicant organisations must be formally constituted with a clear governance and financial structure and have their own bank account.

Community groups will stand a better chance of success if their project has one or more of the following objectives:

Increasing community engagement with Scotland’s coastal or waterway heritage;

Building the resilience of coastal or waterway heritage to ensure its continued survival for future generations;

Promoting knowledge about coastal or waterway heritage at risk of loss due to climate change;

And the ability to demonstrate the community benefit of their project.

The application process is competitive, so applicants must submit an expression of interest form by April 30 at the latest. Subsequent application forms must be submitted by May 31.

Examples of activities which would be eligible for funding include:

Community outreach or educational activities to increase people’s understanding of Scotland’s coastal or waterway heritage;

Interpretation of coastal or waterway heritage sites;

Opportunities to develop traditional skills necessary to look after coastal and waterway heritage;

Small-scale interventions focused on improving rainwater disposal from historic buildings, structures or sites (eg increasing the size of rainwater systems, enhancing detailing, improvements to surface drainage);

Minor repair or stabilisation of historic harbour or marine structures or research or feasibility work to investigate the viability of such projects;

Development of risk management plans to assess relevant risks and put plans in place to prepare for or respond to severe weather events and climate change;

Documenting or recording information about historic environment assets at risk of permanent loss through excavation, survey and recording, collation of archival materials or gathering people’s memories and knowledge.

Match funding is a requirement for all projects and this must be in place by the scheduled start date.

This can be in the form of other grant funding, cash or in-kind contributions.

HES would like to cover no more than 50 per cent of each project’s cost, but exceptions may be made where there is evidence of need and a strong fit with programme objectives.

Amy Eastwood, head of grants at HES, said: “We are keen to receive applications for community-led projects focusing on any aspect of Scotland’s coastal or waterway heritage.

“This could be a physical site like a coastal monument or historic harbour or something intangible, like the memories or traditions.

“As much of this heritage is affected by climate change, we want to support efforts to protect it, for example by recording at-risk sites or improving rainwater disposal systems on historic buildings and to promote knowledge about it among communities through engagement activities or the creation of interpretation.”

The launch of the Coasts and Waters Heritage Fund follows the publication of HES’s Climate Action Plan.

Scotland’s historic environment is on the front line of climate change and, in April 2019, the Scottish Government declared a climate emergency in a bid to address it.

HES has responded by launching its five year action plan, setting out its ambitions from 2020 to 2025.

Alex Paterson, HES chief executive, said: “Natural decay is increasing, iconic assets are under threat and some may be lost, yet Scotland’s historic environment remains an incredible sustainable asset.

“The Climate Action Plan is purposefully ambitious and affects every area of our operations and every member of staff – without them, we will not succeed.

“It will also require the support of a great many partners to deliver the benefits it will bring.”

The plan sets out seven key areas of action, including sustainable travel and tourism.

But the public also has a role to play so education, training and inspiring behaviour change also form part of the plan.