£2.5million boost to coastal communities revealed

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today launched Northern Ireland’s Coastal Communities Fund annual report.

It reveals that this Fund has brought £2.5million to our economy, funding 11 projects based along our coast from Coleraine to Newcastle via Rathlin Island, with grants ranging from £71,000 to £736,000 to help create sustainable economic growth and jobs.

Harbour improvements, crafts, fishing, creative foods and building renovations have benefitted from the funding.

Applications for the Fund will reopen this summer and the Minister urges potential applicants to start getting their projects ready.

Minister Durkan said: “The Coastal Communities Fund is a real shot in the arm for our coastal communities boosting their local economies.

“The Fund is designed to support the economic development of communities along our coasts. It promotes regeneration and sustains economic growth by funding projects that create new jobs as well as safeguard existing jobs.

“This report highlights some of the local projects, which show just how resourceful our coastal communities are in keeping their towns, villages and islands prosperous and vibrant.

“I take much pride in being able to assist them by distributing funding that encourages people working together in partnership for the benefit of the whole community.

“Coleraine Harbour is a prime example of this.

“It has benefited to the tune of £443,000 from the Fund to improve harbour storage and engineering facilities of 1,500 sq metres.

A local company started by two young entrepreneurs, The Skunkworks Surf Company, will be moving in to these new premises from their small workshop in Coleraine. They manufacture their own surf boards and are NI’s first surfboard company.

“They have pitched to Richard Branson and recently won the top place in the Engineering category at Invent 2015, run by the Northern Ireland Science Park. Skunkworks anticipate a capital spend of £500k on equipment and plan to employ 15-18 people over the next three years.”

“The Fund re-opens for applications this summer. I urge potential applicants to start getting their projects ready now. What I and DOE are about is building a better environment and a stronger economy. This Fund helps do that.”

In highlighting how the funds boost local coastal areas, Coleraine Harbour Master Captain Pat McKeegan said: “The introduction of the grant from the Coastal Communities Fund enabled the Harbour Commissioners to reinstate two derelict transit sheds which has been unused for over 20 years.

The buildings have been completely refurbished and brought up to a standard comparable with a new building enabling immediate occupation by a manufacturing company which is water related and at the same time fits in with the diversification which the Commissioners envisage for the Harbour Estate.”

The following projects benefited from the Coastal Communities Fund

1.Ballycastle Town Market (rebranded Naturally North Coast and Glens)

Ballycastle Town Market was awarded a grant of £96,901 to provide sustainable business facilities, support, marketing and training to local craftspeople and food producers.

2.Bushmills - The Designerie

Causeway Enterprise Agency was awarded a grant of £120,000 to create a studio, learning and retail facility for local artists, crafters and designers at Mill House.

3. Carrickfergus Enterprise

Project description: Carrickfergus Enterprise was awarded a grant of £77,080 to organise and deliver a two year programme of business support and training throughout the coastal area between Newtownabbey and Larne.

4.Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council – Glenariff and Waterfoot

Project Description: Following the award of a Coastal Communities Fund grant of £186,560 Moyle District Council and Glenariff Improvement Group transformed a derelict building into a Coastal Centre in Waterfoot, County Antrim. The refurbishment provides a beach café and visitor experience celebrating the rich cultural history of the Sea of Moyle.

5. Coleraine Harbour Association

Coleraine Harbour was awarded a grant of £443,000 to improve harbour storage and engineering facilities (1,500 sq metres) to benefit the boating and tourism communities at Coleraine Harbour and along the Causeway coast to combat the decline in traditional cargo handling.

6.Glenarm - Buildings Preservation Trust

Based in Glenarm on the Antrim coast, the project has seen the regeneration of the derelict Seaview Old School to provide craft, community, and tourism facilities and develop a visitor attraction in the area to safeguarding local jobs and create employment in the local tourism sector, thanks to a grant of £265,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund.

7. Kilkeel Development Association

Following the award of a Coastal Communities Fund grant of £260,872 the project is delivering Northern Ireland’s first lobster hatchery producing juvenile lobsters for release into the wild to sustain the local lobster population in the longer term. The hatchery also provides an educational and research resource through which awareness and understanding of lobsters will be improved.

8. Magheramorne - Learning to Grow

Based just outside Larne, the project saw the development of a water sourcing and bottling resource at Magheramorne on the shores of Larne Lough thanks to a Coastal Communities Fund grant of £250,517.

9.Newcastle - Bayview Synergy Space

Bayview Synergy Space, based in Newcastle, was awarded a grant of £96,944 to provide affordable co-working and co-retailing space for 26 small businesses from the creative and food sectors.

10. Rathlin Island - Ocean Veg

Ocean Veg, based on Rathlin Island, was awarded a grant of £71,844 to establish and operate a kelp ‘nursery’ laboratory on Rathlin Island to provide young kelp plants for growing out at sea (within a 20-acre growing site) to enhance production levels to meet increasing demand from retail, food manufacturers and restaurants across the UK.

11. Rathlin Island Development Association – Manor House

Rathlin Island Development and Community Association was awarded a grant of £736,643 to develop The Manor House, a listed building adjacent to the harbour on the island.

The Coastal Communities Fund, which was established by the UK Treasury, supports projects that boost the economic prospects of coastal communities across the UK. The Fund for Northern Ireland is managed by the Department of Environment.

The current Coastal Communities Fund covers the period 2012 to March 2017 and had a grant budget of approximately £2.5million to fund a number of projects for up to two years. A wide range of applicant organisations and projects which benefit coastal communities were able to apply for capital and revenue grants in excess of £50,000 under the programme.