£4m boost for Northumberland’s rural communities

Nathalie Dale, of Lindisfarne Charcoal, right.
Nathalie Dale, of Lindisfarne Charcoal, right.

Rural businesses and communities in Northumberland are set to benefit from nearly £4million to help create jobs and boost the economy.

And to help decide which organisations receive grant funding, the Northumberland LEADER Programme is looking to recruit new members to its Local Action Groups (LAGs). These groups are made up of the local community along with the public and private sector.

They will decide which projects they will fund in their area. This depends on their priorities but all projects must support one or more of the six LEADER priorities, which are to: support micro and small businesses and farm diversification; boost rural tourism; increase farm productivity; increase forestry productivity; provide rural services; provide cultural and heritage activities.

A grant funding pot of £4million will be opened for applications in the coming months and the programme open until 2019 for eligible rural businesses.

Previous rounds of LEADER funding in Northumberland have supported many and varied projects. One example is more than £14,000 of funding to allow a young businesswoman to set up her own business and play her part in supporting her local community after establishing Lindisfarne Charcoal. The funding was used to buy specialist tools such as charcoal production kilns and chain-saws, helping the business produce traditionally made charcoal from locally sourced timber.

LEADER programme officer, Ivan Hewitt, said: “With the beginning of the new programme, we are looking to widen and develop the membership of our Local Action Groups. We want to hear from local businesses, community organisations, parish and town councils, development trusts, public-sector agencies and local residents. By developing the LAGs in this way, we intend to ensure there are a broad range of interests local to Northumberland represented.”

Coun Allan Hepple, Northumberland County Council cabinet member for economic growth, said: “As the LEADER Programme continues to grow, develop, and deliver regeneration projects and community development initiatives, it will remain open and accessible to everyone. Growing the economy is this council’s number one corporate priority and this is another source of funding which will provide a great boost to our rural communities. I’d urge anyone with ideas for developing their business, boosting rural tourism, increasing the productivity of farms and forests, or improving rural services to get in touch.”

Anyone interested in joining either of the Northumberland LEADER Local Action Groups should email their name, organisation (if appropriate), contact address including postcode, contact number and email address to either Northumberland Coast & Lowlands – ivan.hewitt@northumberland.gov.uk or telephone 01670 623927, or Northumberland Uplands – gillian.cowell@northumberland.gov.uk or telephone 01670 623885. Applications to join the Northumberland LEADER LAGs need to be received by Friday, July 31.