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Strengthening cross-border links

Published: 22 Jan 2016 09:57
Part of:

£209m EU funding for innovation, health, environment and transport projects.

A £209 million EU funding programme to strengthen cross-border links between western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland is being launched today.

Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Investment, Keith Brown, will join Northern Ireland Finance Minister Mervyn Storey and Ireland Finance Minister Brendan Howlin at an event in Belfast to mark the launch of the INTERREG VA initiative.

The programme, which is open to applications, will fund projects working across the three regions in areas such as environmental protection, business research and innovation, the provision of healthcare solutions and sustainable transport.

The funds will support activity from now until 2020.

Speaking in Belfast, Mr Brown said:

"I welcome this investment and commitment to strengthening our cross-border partnerships and look forward to seeing people and communities in Western Scotland sharing in the benefits being delivered to all three regions.

"This huge investment will help projects delivering healthcare, transport, environmental benefits and wider innovation, strengthening our already good cross-border links with Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland.

"Funding such as this also demonstrates quite clearly how communities in Scotland gain from being an active part of the European Union.

"Western Scotland was incorporated into the previous round of this programme in 2007 and we have already seen good results. For example, the IBIS project, which was funded under the programme, delivered a world-class research and training facility at Loch Lomond."

Notes to editors

More information on the programme can be found at

Targets for the INTERREG VA programme include:

  • Improving the conservation status of 4,500 hectares of natural habitats;
  • support for more than 1,400 SMEs engaged in cross-border research and innovation;
  • providing access for 50,000 to a wide-range of health and social care services;
  • increasing daily cross-border journeys on public transport from 8 per cent to 25 per cent by 2023.

Previous (€256m) INTERREG IVA funded projects (2007-2013)

  • IBIS 'Integrated Aquatic Resource Management between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland' Project (Value: £6m) The overall aim of the project was to protect aquatic resources between the three regions. Activity included the development of a common approach to training , research and knowledge-sharing to support freshwater and marine resource management and policy. Detailed studies were also conducted on species including Atlantic salmon, European eel, sea trout, mussels and oysters. One of the key benefits to Scotland was the development of a world-class research and training facility at Loch Lomond.
  • Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) – (Value: £1.39m) The project was designed to improve the natural habitats of a range of priority bird species which have undergone a severe decline (including chough, corncrake and breeding wader species). Habitat management work for these species carried out under the project also benefited other wildlife species including the great yellow bumblebee, the marsh fritillary butterfly and the Irish damselfly (dragonfly). For more information go to