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June 29, 2011

Movern landing

Money and people who sail yachts generally tend to go together. The challenge for coastal communities is to find some (legal) means of parting the one from the other. Research studies have shown that when yachties come ashore, they’ll make a hefty contribution to the local economy if the facilities are there to use. Making it easy for these big spenders to come ashore is the first step

A remote West Highland community is celebrating the start of work on state of the art sailing facilities which will bring in new income to benefit all those who live there.

After a long campaign lead by the Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC) a funding package has been put in place to build pontoons for up to 24 vessels on the west side of Lochaline just a 5 minute stroll from the village.

The pontoons, which will cost in excess of £315,000, will be fully operational by June 2011 and will provide safe berthing and shore access for one of the West Highlands most sheltered sea lochs.

Over recent years, research carried out has revealed that between the months of June and September an average of 19 yachts visit Lochaline each evening.

Funding for the development has come from several providers – the community itself, HIE, Highland Council and the Sail West Project which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg IVA programme.

The Morvern Community is already experienced in community development. Only two years ago they raised £10,000 to replace the fuel pumps in the village, which had reached the end of their working life.

The Company also employs its own community development officer through an initiative run by HIE known as community account management. Lilia Dobrokhodova works with the various members of the community to support local growth.

She commented: “The pontoons are only one of several projects that the Company is working on at present. There are also plans to create shoreside facilities for visiting yachts, incorporating shower/toilet facilities a chandlery shop and a small office, which will undoubtedly complement the pontoons. We hope to have these in place for the beginning of next season.

“The Development Company has also been actively working to attract potential purchasers to the mothballed sand mine,” she added. “Final funding is in place to create village allotments and we are also looking at creating community facilities where the old scout hut stands.”

HIE’s Ian Philp provides business support for the community development initiative.

“The community around Morvern are very motivated and see the advantage of generating their own income to allow them to reinvest in key services and facilities that benefit their way of life. HIE is delighted to support them explore how to make best use of local resources, be that tourism opportunities from the sea or how they might develop projects like renewable energy generation on land.”