The main population centres are primarily located towards the coastal fringes in the larger towns of Ayr, Troon and Girvan, with fishing an important industry in these towns. There are many coastal communities in North Ayrshire, some of which are viewed as relatively affluent areas and locations for retirement. The economy is largely based on tourism, including sailing.
An ongoing challenge for coastal settlements is the building of a diverse, mixed economy including developing the area as a visitor destination. Restructuring of the fishing industry has had an adverse economic impact on many coastal towns that relied upon fishing. A key development need is to enable fisheries communities to create new and sustainable sources of income and to improve their quality of life. Other challenges for the area include problems connected with poor transport links, shortage of affordable housing and lack of employment opportunities. These challenges are leading to an out-migration of young people, which in turn is threatening the sustainability of many local communities.
The FLAG’s local development strategy (LDS) emphasises the tourism infrastructure and strong agricultural and fishing sectors. A central objective of the strategy is ‘to protect, maintain and improve the amenity, natural heritage and recreational value of open space and the countryside generally, and to protect and enhance sites of scientific interest, wildlife sites, habitats of value, good quality agricultural land and South Ayrshire’s archaeological heritage’. The LDS has the following specific objectives:
The FLAG does not make specific calls for projects. Instead, project promoters are encouraged to make expressions of interest year-round. More information on the FLAGs application form can be found here:
FLAG members include the Argyll and Bute Council, Clyde Marine Planning Partnership, Lantra Sector Skills Council, Mull Aquaculture and Fisheries Association, Scottish Association of Marine Science, South West Inshore Fisheries Group, Tobermory Harbour Association, Associated British Ports, Cassilis Estate, Visit Scotland, and the Argyll and the Islands LEADER LAG.