The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) works to protect and restore our coastal & marine environment around Arran and the Clyde and promotes sustainable fishing and tourism. We established the first community marine reserve in Scotland in 2008 (Lamlash Bay No Take Zone) and one of Scotland's first Marine Protected Areas in 2016.
With strong community support and after extensive market research, COAST purchased in December 2016 a derelict pavilion and tennis courts on Lamlash shore to transform it into the HQ of COAST and our Marine Protected Area. This community marine hub (The Octopus) will promote Arran’s marine biodiversity and coastal and marine activities for locals and visitors to discover and access our rich marine culture, heritage and environment.
Since January this year, over 40 volunteers have been actively involved (investing over 600 hours) in the renovation of the old building, mending fences, cleaning and gardening. COAST contracted local joiner Peter Heinemeier and his team to carry out the main works who has subcontracted local suppliers and purchased local supplies where possible from companies such as Country Carpets, Armitage, etc. You can find out more about progress on our blog, the Octopus Centre. Funding from North Ayrshire Council Ventures Trust was instrumental in completing this phase.
Argyll and the Islands LEADER Local Action Group, as part of the European Network for Rural Development, have offered COAST funding for Phase 2 of this 5 year community-led project. Each phase is self-contained to ensure we deliver as we go, that we are engaging with local partners and to ensure its sustainability by growing step by step. Phase 2 will complete the fit out of a marine activities centre and COAST/ Marine Protected Area HQ to be housed in a renovated pavilion. It will be a self-sufficient cornerstone of a larger marine hub that will include a fully-fledged marine visitor centre at a later stage.
At the end of Phase 2 the building will be in use and will start to offer exciting marine-related learning and leisure opportunities to locals and visitors all year round through a unique programme of marine events and workshops once opened to the public in Spring 2018. We’ll be working in collaboration with over 15 local businesses such as boat hire operators, fishers, wildlife guides, dive operators, food and accommodation providers and CBO/NGOs such as Arran Coastal Way, Arran Arts Trail, National Trust of Scotland, Visit Arran and Visit Scotland.
With an interesting mix of coastal and marine science, arts, sports and fun activities we will build local capacity and skills, encourage healthy lifestyles and strengthen the local economy. A marine info-point and regular meetings and events will help market and promote best practices and sharing knowledge between new and traditional sustainable coastal and marine businesses and identify opportunities (ie: creeling and hand dive fishing, wildlife tourism, exploring the potential for seaweed aquaculture, hiring equipment for marine and coastal leisure, marine biology and conservation skills, etc).
COAST requires funding to complete phase 2. LEADER funding will assist us to do two things as part of phase 2 of the development.
Firstly it will enable the fitting out of the two multifunctional rooms of activity centre to be used for film screenings, guided tours, educational and local business & groups workshops and events and volunteer training. A merchandise display and a marine info-point will also be created. Another room will serve as the HQ for COAST and the South Arran Marine Protected Area. In addition it will enable COAST to purchase equipment for workshops and events such as a touch tank that will engage the public and equip volunteers and students for citizen science activities, and to generate new films. A computer and printer will be supporting our educational work and the design and printing of interpretation panels will help spread the message about our activities and place.
Secondly, it will allow us to make the building more energy efficient and reduce our carbon footprint by installing solar panels, a heat pump system and a sun room/conservatory). This will reduce our operating costs and serve as an example of creating a publically accessible eco-friendly building out of an old building which currently has very poor heat loss ratings.
Please get in touch if you would like to get involved in this community-led project. We need a variety of skills and talents to make this project a success for our community, our economy and our marine environment.