MSP Mike Russell welcomes £11M rural grants boost

South of Scotland MSP Mike Russell today (Monday) welcomed an £11.8 million  boost to growing and improving rural businesses in Dumfries and Galloway through the Scottish Government’s Rural Priorities funding scheme.

Self catering accommodation near Lockerbie and improved housing for cattle are among the 56 successful projects for the area approved in the latest round of Rural Priorities grants.

Mr Russell said: “The £11.8M tranche of funding to the South West represents the biggest slice of the Rural Priorities grants anywhere in Scotland. It is a testament to the SNP administration’s determination to help Dumfries and Galloway rural communities fight their way through the current very serious financial situation.”

He added: “These grants not only will help sustain and improve existing projects, they also create additional local jobs.”

In total, since the Rural Priorities scheme was started, some 4,500 projects have been approved through grants to the value of £330 million. Hundreds of projects have now been completed and are making a real difference to Scotland’s rural communities, with the creation of 530 new jobs.

Projects approved in Dumfries and Galloway include:

A redundant farm building near Lockerbie will be refurbished into 4/5 star self catering holiday accommodation, integrating with sporting interests and wildlife walks on the farm. Leaflets and post way-markers to encourage outdoor activities have also been applied for. The grant totals £39,392.75.

A new entrant, currently running a beef enterprise at Congeith, near Dumfries, is looking to diversify into free range egg production by constructing two 16,000 bird poultry units using a £559,847.55 grant. The project will sustain five jobs, and create a further three permanent posts as well six temporary positions.

Matthew Service returned to the family farm near Stranraer in 2005 after completing a BSc in Agriculture. In 2008, the business invested in a new parlour to improve cow welfare and reduce milking times and is now seeking to build a cubicle shed to house 80 cattle, reducing the stocking pressure on the ground in the winter and  creating  more slurry storage capacity and  hence reducing the risk of diffuse pollution entering Sandmill Burn. The grant totals £94,971 and livestock will be prevented from accessing the watercourse by new fencing.