£4m funding scheme for rural Northumberland now open

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A scheme to boost jobs and growth for rural businesses and communities in Northumberland with nearly £4million of funding is now open for business.

The Northumberland LEADER Programme is open for applications and will provide grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy

A total of 70 per cent of the available funding will be used to support projects which create jobs and economic growth. The remaining funding will be directed at projects and activities which demonstrate that they contribute to improving the rural economy in Northumberland.

LEADER is a method of delivering rural development through a local community-led approach. It is a European Union initiative and forms part of the Rural Development Programme for England.

Its priorities in Northumberland are to support micro and small businesses and farm diversification; boost rural tourism; increase farm productivity; increase forestry productivity; provide rural services; and provide cultural and heritage activities.

Anne Lowrie, chairman of the Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group, said: "Because we are committed to local, community-led delivery, as the programme continues to grow, develop, and deliver, LEADER will remain open and accessible to everyone. This includes residents, farmers, landowners, businesses, community groups and councils."

Ross Weddle, chairman of the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Local Action Group, said: "If someone has an idea for developing a business, boosting rural tourism, increasing the productivity of farms and forests, or improving rural services then we would very much like to hear from them."

The LEADER Programme is supported by Northumberland County Council. Council leader Grant Davey said: "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. We’d encourage any business or community groups to get in touch and see how they could benefit."

Further information on the new LEADER Programme in Northumberland is available from:

Northumberland Coast and Lowlands - Ivan Hewitt, 01670 623927 / 07920 184617 or ivan.hewitt@northumberland.gov.uk
Northumberland Uplands - Gillian Cowell, 01670 623885 / 07920 184616 or email gillian.cowell@northumberland.gov.uk