Over £1.2m boost to coastal communities

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Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has 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 the coast to help create sustainable economic growth and jobs.

Over £1.2million has been given to local projects which include:

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.

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, Bushmills.

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. The refurbishment provides a beach café and visitor experience celebrating the rich cultural history of the Sea of Moyle.

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.

Finally the 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.

Applications for the Fund will reopen this summer and the Minister urges potential applicants to start getting their projects ready. He said: “The Coastal Communities Fund is a shot in the arm for our communities boosting their economies. The Fund is designed to support the economic development 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 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 with funding that encourages people working together for the benefit of the whole community.

“Coleraine Harbour is a prime example of this. It has benefitted 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.”