MEP welcomes Highlands and Islands EU cash

25 February 2005
SNP MEP for the Highlands and Islands Alyn Smith today (25th Feb) welcomed the Executive's announcement of European funding for three projects in the region but criticised the hypocrisy of Deputy Enterprise Minister Allan Wilson.

Mr Smith said:

"European funding is vital for the Highlands and Islands area, and Allan Wilson is right that this money can transform the prospects both of individuals and entire regions but the minister is hiding the fact that this money will soon disappear and his Executive colleagues are doing nothing to prevent it.

The importance of European funding to development and growth can be seen across the Highlands and Islands, we do not need the Minister to remind us. Unfortunately the Labour government at Westminster and the Labour led Executive in Scotland are signing away the chances of funding for the Highlands in the future. The UK government is arguing for a reduction in the European budget and the first cuts would fall on regional development funds for the wealthier EU countries, that means no more money for the Highlands and Islands.

These three projects could be among the last to receive European backing. In other countries ministers are fighting to save regional funding while in Scotland they are looking the other way. I urge residents across the Highlands and Islands who have benefited from European regional development funding to write to the Minister and demand he and his colleagues start working to protect our funding for the future"

The three projects to receive funds are a Tourist and Community Centre for Islay, the Westray Development Trust's Renewable Energy Centre project and the Outdoor Capital of the UK initiative run by Lochaber Enterprise.