Plans to transform East Ayrshire coalfield landscape in funding boost
A group behind plans to transform the former mining heartland of East Ayrshire is in line to receive a £2.56m National Lottery funding boost.
A huge swathe of land between the river valleys of the Lugar and the Doon is scarred by bings and spoil heaps.
Towns like Cumnock and Dalmellington are also home to some of the highest levels of deprivation in Scotland.
Now The Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership is hoping to change the fortunes of the area.
It wants to restore the natural and built heritage of the area, which spans 250 sq km (97 sq miles), and includes eight sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).
And it hopes to create opportunities for leisure, tourism, skills and training.
Their proposals include:
- A trail interpreting lost mining villages and oral histories capturing the life of those that lived there
- Restoration works to the banks of the River Lugar
- An arts project to celebrate the history of the brass bands associated with the mining communities
- The creation of new paths to improve opportunities for walking and cycling
- Apprenticeships in landscape management
- The development of a sustainable fuel source using river rushes to create briquettes.
The partnership has received £194,000 in development funding from the Heritage Lottery Funding to draw up detailed plans.
If its fully-developed plans are accepted by HLF during the second stage of the funding process, it will receive £2.56m to bring them to fruition.
Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "The landscape partnership provides a unique framework with which to tackle large-scale environmental degradation and we have seen it work very successfully in other areas of Scotland.
"I am delighted that, thanks to players of the National Lottery, the communities of East Ayrshire will be able to benefit from this approach.
"The industrial character of East Ayrshire means that people often don't recognise that its natural resources and meandering rivers make it rich in both built and natural heritage.
"The Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership will help people reconnect with their natural heritage, strengthening their sense of pride and inspiring stewardship of the land around them."
Douglas Reid, the leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: "This is fantastic news for East Ayrshire and will allow us to work up the detail of our ambitious scheme, devised in partnership with our communities."
He added: "Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to realise our ambitions, carrying out work in our coalfield communities which would not otherwise have proved possible."