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November 7, 2003 3:15 PM

Safe play areas are among the many projects being funded throughout Scotland by the Executive's Community Environmental Renewal Scheme.

Ross Finnie, Environment Minister, today announced that more than £1 million is to be distributed to 57 community projects to address the environmental impact of quarrying in their areas.

The money comes from the November 2003 round of the Community Environmental Renewal Scheme (CERS). The scheme is administered by Forward Scotland, on behalf of the Executive, using funds from the Aggregates Levy.

Grants offered range from £2,000 to £51,000 and successful applications include a grant for a community gardening project beside a disused quarry at Pitcaple in Aberdeenshire, a plan for archiving an archaeological site disrupted by quarrying on Orkney and restoration of a former quarry harbour in Argyll.

Many of the grants were awarded for improving community footpaths and providing safe play facilities in areas affected by traffic to and from busy quarries.

Ross Finnie said:

"The Executive is committed to delivering environmental improvements in all areas of Scotland.

"As part of that commitment, the Community Environmental Renewal Scheme is delivering tangible benefits for communities throughout Scotland that experience the impact of industrial activity, including quarrying, on their environment.

"This substantial funding allows these communities stretching from the Highlands to Dumfries and Galloway to receive funding towards projects aimed at improving their local environment."

Of the £1.5m available in 2002-03, £921,000 was allocated in grants in January 2003 leaving some £600,000 not allocated. This £600,000 from 2002-03 has been carried forward under End Year Flexibility arrangements to add to the £1.35m available in 2003-04. In the first round in 2003-04, £584,000 was allocated.

Forward Scotland is a charitable company set up to promote sustainable development in Scotland through supporting practical projects and influencing policy.

The UK government introduced the Aggregates Levy in order to reduce aggregates use, encourage the use of alternative materials and address the environmental costs.

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