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Caithness News Bulletins June 2004

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Three transnational projects worth 4.5 million Euros and involving Highlands & Islands partners have been approved by the EU Northern Periphery Programme.

The projects will provide research, demonstration and exchange of best practice in relation to rural service delivery, the development of coastal heritage sites and how best to use watercourses to secure local sustainable community development.

Delivering services in remote and rural areas - DESERVE, is one of the projects, where partners from across the Programme area will implement a project in their own region using a model, or elements of different models, of service delivery for remote and rural areas.

The long term view is that different service sectors will learn from each other and that models borrowed from partners will be mainstreamed across the Northern Periphery area.

Norman MacAskill, rural policy manager with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: "This bold and imaginative project will offer an exciting opportunity for remote rural communities in Scotland, Sweden, Iceland and Finland to learn from each other's good practice in the delivery of services."

e added: "The exchange of ideas and the opportunity to try out new ways of doing things has the potential to benefit remote communities throughout the Highlands - and to export some of our good ideas for the benefit of other areas in northern Europe."

The second project to get approval is the Northern Coastal Experience (NORCE).  Here partners from seven countries will work to establish a network of, and develop a joint information strategy for, coastal heritage sites across the Northern Periphery area.

Chief executive of Orkney Tourist Board, Barbara Foulkes, said: "Orkney Tourist Board is delighted to be involved in the NORCE project. This is a great opportunity to work with other partners who face similar challenges of distance from market and limited season.

"We are looking forward to sharing best practice and developing strong links which we hope to take forward through product development."   The first meeting of the NORCE partners will take place in Iceland at the end of June.

The finals project is NORWAT - the integrated approach to northern watercourses and their community development.

Watercourses are important features in many Northern periphery regions and NORWAT seeks to improve the relationship between environmental and socio-economic well-being along watercourses.  The project will produce best practice manuals for the benefit of the whole Programme area.  In the Highlands and Islands the project will focus on the River Spey catchment.

Commenting on NORWAT, Highland Council senior planning officer, Andrew Brown, said: "Along with our Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian partners, we will look at the relationship between a variety of land uses and water quality, to see how best practices here and abroad can allow for continued development while safeguarding water quality.

"We will carry out some improvement works to benefit salmon habitats.  And there will be educational and training activities to increase understanding of rivers and their management.

"Over the next three years there will be opportunities for visits to and from our partner communities, and a final record will be produced that can be used by any other community interested in positive water catchment management."

The Northern Periphery Programme is an EU programme promoting cooperation between the northernmost regions of Finland, Scotland, Norway and Sweden, and all of Greenland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.

The programme runs until 2006 and has a total budget of approximately 30 million.  It provides funding for transnational projects on transport, ICT (information communication technology), sustainable resource
development, business development, rural services and spatial planning.


Highlands & Islands Enterprise is the regional contact point (RCP) for the Northern Periphery Programme in Scotland.