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Outdoor Access Ranger Service to be restored to Sutherland following funding award

By Caroline McMorran

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An outdoor access ranger service is to be restored to Sutherland following a funding award.

Sutherland councillors this week agreed to grant £100,000 from the Community Regeneration Fund to fund three full-time outdoor access ranger posts.

Highland Council access ranger van at Cnoc Craggie. Picture: NatureScot
Highland Council access ranger van at Cnoc Craggie. Picture: NatureScot

A Highland-wide ranger service ended at the end of March after three years due to funding difficulties.

Fears of a rise in irresponsible tourism as valued oudoor access ranger service to end

The costs of the service were originally met by Highland Council and the Scottish Government through NatureScot’s Better Paces Recovery Fund.

The axing of the service, which saw rangers engage with visitors to ensure awareness of the Outdoor Access Code, caused concern in local communities.

All six Sutherland councillors backed the community regeneration award at their meeting in Drummuie, Golspie, on Tuesday.

Sutherland County Committee chairman Cllr Richard Gale said: “I think the ranger service has been shown to be a really positive influence throughout the county, particularly with the influx of motorhomes and campervans.”

Councillors went on to agree another five funding awards.

Development Group Go Golspie was granted £30,071 towards the continuation of its development manager post.

Kinlochbervie Community Council is in line to receive £21,341 for improvements to its Loch Clash Campervan Stopover and other projects.

Scourie Community Development Company was granted £18,309 for the continuation of is community officer post. The committee heard that the development officer was currently concentrating on a housing project and a safer routes to school initiative.

Assynt Leisure is to receive £16,125 towards its project to establish a supervised learning space where local pupils can study after school, during holidays and at other times the school is closed.

And Durness Golf Club will receive £10,025 towards the purchase of a new mower.

The funding disbursed totalled £195,872.

Cllr Hugh Morrison, north, west and central Sutherland, said: “In this batch of applications, we are pleased to assist with supporting the employment of post holders who are working very hard to make a difference in Sutherland through key services and infrastructure projects.

“We are also looking forward to our children and young people receiving support during the winter months when learning can often be interrupted due to bad weather.”

Community Regeneration Funding is an umbrella term for a number of funds that are available for communities and organisations to access in Highland.

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