Knoydart anger at Year of Natural Scotland snub

Knoydart can only be reached by boat. Picture: TSPL
Knoydart can only be reached by boat. Picture: TSPL
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IT IS renowned as one of Scotland’s most remote areas and has long been dubbed “Britain’s last wilderness”.

But organisers of the Knoydart Festival, in the west Highlands, have hit out after plans to expand the event for the Year of Natural Scotland were turned down for funding.

The 100-strong population faces having to raise the expected £60,000 costs of this year’s three-day event on their own after being shunned by Creative Scotland, EventScotland and VisitScotland.

The festival is held in front of a spectacular mountainous backdrop on a purpose-built site on the Long Beach, near Knoydart’s only settlement of Inverie.

Locals who had been planning a series of special outdoor activities to allow visitors to make the most of their stay in the remote peninsula say theyhave been left “gutted” at the rejection of their funding bids.

The Year of Natural Scotland campaign, initiated by the Scottish Government, has a budget of more than £5.4 million and is the flagship tourism initiative for 2013, paving the way for next year’s Year of Homecoming.Celtic Connections in Glasgow, T in the Park at Balado and the Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William are among the events that have received official backing.

Although every ticket was sold out for the last event, two years ago, the festival still made a loss of several thousand pounds and had to be bailed out by a handful of local businesses.

The festival has told its Facebook followers that the rejection of the funding bids has left their projected budget looking “huge and scary”.

Festival director Jacquie Wallace said: “We thought we would be a perfect fit for the Year of Natural Scotland and made a real effort in the hope of securing funding.

“Some of the feedback we got was that £75 was a lot to be charging for a ticket for the festival, but that is a lot cheaper than other events and we have got all the costs involving in bringing everyone over here and all the equipment that is needed for the festival.

“We just feel gutted that we’ve been turned down by everyone, especially as it’s the Year of Natural Scotland. We just feel that they are only interested in the bigger events for some reason.”

David Newton, local development officer in Knoydart, who is also on the organising committee, said: “The economic impact of the festival is the crucial thing – it must be well over £100,000, when you consider the number of people using the boat and the shops in Mallaig.

“We said we would never do it again after the last one, but it was very popular and people really want to see it happen again.”

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: “On this occasion, the applicant was unsuccessful.

“To set this in context, all funding applications are subject to rigorous assessment processes and decisions are taken on the information provided against criteria outlined in application guidelines.”

An EventScotland spokesman said: “All applications are subject to a rigorous assessment process based on the information provided in relation to the criteria detailed in the application guidelines. Events are encouraged to contact us in advance before submitting proposals for advice and we also give any unsuccessful applicants the opportunity for feedback.”