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Minister Launches Loch Leven Heritage Project (Issue 337, December 2006)
Rhona Brankin MSP, Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, visited Burleigh Sands on 20 November to officially launch the Loch Leven Heritage Project. She cut the first turf to start construction on the continuous 13.5km path that will link heritage sites around Loch Leven from Kinross to Vane Farm.
The Loch Leven Heritage Project is the biggest project to date for TRACKS (The Rural Access Committee of Kinross-shire). It has taken the Committee three years to plan the project and secure the necessary funding package. The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the project £450,000 and it will also receive £360,000 from Scottish Natural Heritage over its three-year lifetime. Other major funding partners contributing to the £1.8 million package include the Gannochy Trust, Perth and Kinross Council, Forestry Commission Scotland and Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust.
The minister was welcomed by Councillor Willie Robertson, Chairman of TRACKS, and Neil Kilpatrick, Project Director. She also met and was photographed with pupils from Milnathort Primary and Kinross High schools. They were invited in recognition of how significant the project will be for the young people of Kinross-shire. The event was filmed by BBC Scotland and the Minister was interviewed by Louise Batchelor, BBC Scotland's Environment correspondent.
Scottish Natural Heritage had kindly erected a small marquee for a reception following the turf-cutting ceremony. Guests included representatives of the many partner organisations involved in funding and assisting the project, local landowners and community councils. Willie Robertson welcomed the guests and thanked everyone who had worked so hard to bring the project to this stage. Neil Kilpatrick outlined the project and thanked the funding partners. Both men commented on the wholehearted approval the project has received in the local community and warmly thanked the Kinross Estate Company and the other landowners involved for the tremendous support and co-operation they have given. As the wind whipped round the marquee, Rhona Brankin decided to abandon her 15-minute prepared speech but enthusiastically endorsed the project and congratulated TRACKS on getting it underway.
The first phase of the project, due for completion by the end of April 2007, will run from the Boathouse at Kinross House to the Pow Burn via Mary's Gate, Burleigh Sands, the Fish Farm and Orwell. Once over-wintering geese depart in April from their roost in front of Kinross House, the section connecting to Kirkgate will be completed without disturbing the birds.
Project Director, Neil Kilpatrick explained,
"Our aim is to provide a marvellous and lasting asset for the people of Kinross-shire, opening up access around most of Loch Leven. We also hope to attract an additional 100,000 visitors a year to Loch Leven, with consequent benefits to the local economy.
"The project will help people enjoy both the superb natural heritage of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve and the fascinating historical sites around the loch."
Scottish Natural Heritage, the body responsible for managing the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve, has been involved in the project since its inception. Local farmer and SNH Area Board Member, Robert Balfour said,
"This is a significant investment in the area for SNH. We are committed to improving facilities to enable people to walk, cycle and ride while being able to enjoy the natural heritage and we value the benefit this project will bring to allow people close up views of the bird spectacle at the reserve."
TRACKS has chosen J M Dewar as the contractor for phase one of the path work. RMJM, the firm of architects that worked on the Scottish parliament building, have been appointed as consultants to plan the interpretation and artworks. This is an integral part of the project, intended to add to people's enjoyment and understanding of local heritage sites, as well as to the experience of using the path. The brief is very open and TRACKS want local people to have input to the development of ideas and designs.
We will keep readers updated about progress and let you know how and when you can become involved.