The Scottish Government has doubled the share of crown estate revenue going to Highland Council, thanks to a new funding formula.
In 2020, the local authority received a two-year allocation of £3m. This year, the fund has doubled to £3.2m for 2021 alone.
Meanwhile, council officers say the government won’t review the formula again for two years, meaning Highland can expect similar sums in 2022 and 2023.
Public won’t like £300,000 administration cost
The Highland Coastal Community Fund attracted a huge response. The initial tranche of £3m attracted 83 live projects across Highland and is 98% spent. Yet the total amount bid for was £8m across 200 expressions of interest.
Councillors say the popularity of the fund demonstrates the need for continued investment in rural Highland.
Councillor Denis Rixson said the fund is “Long awaited, long fought for and hugely welcomed in the rural areas.”
However, Mr Rixson took issue with a proposal to dedicate up to 10% of the fund to administration costs. Previously, councillors capped the administration fee at £100,000, but officers said this fell well short of the cost of running the scheme.
Instead, they asked for up to £300,000 to support applicants and monitor the rollout of the projects.
Councillors do not believe the public will be sympathetic to that request. “Given their desire for this funding, we need to make sure we translate as much as possible into action,” said Mr Rixson.
Mr Rixson tabled an amendment to reduce the administration fee to 7.5%, with any unspent money going back into the fund. Councillor Allan Henderson seconded his proposal, which passed unanimously.
Councillors also agreed to retain a strategic investment pot for Highland-wide projects including climate change.