Farming, tourism and job creation targeted by new £1.2 million fund

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The South Pennines Leader programme has a budget of £1,286,000 available to help support a range of business enterprises in the South Pennines area. Applications are now being accepted for the programme, which runs until 2019 and is managed by rural regeneration company Pennine Prospects.

Four projects have already been successful in securing funding, including a beef farm in Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, and a dairy farm in Calderdale. To date the South Pennines Leader programme has awarded £188,253, which has attracted further investment of £282,370 giving a total investment into the South Pennines of a fabulous £470,632. This money will also result in the creation of nine new jobs. And this is just the start; new projects are being sought now.

The new Leader programme is designed to support projects that create jobs and promote economic growth,” explained Candy Squire-Watt, Leader Programme Coordinator. “We are keen to hear from farmers and business owners who may have an idea for diversification or expansion. This is capital funding for the purchase of specialist equipment or for buildings and unlike some other regions with Leader funding we haven’t put a cap on individual funding applications.”

Old Crib Farm in Calderdale is very similar. Providing milk for over 80 years the farm is now run by brothers Frank and John Hitchen. Selling directly to independent rounds-men, as well as schools, care homes and local businesses the Hitchens have been able to remain profitable and sustainable, which is not easy for dairy farmers in this market. They buy milk from other local dairy farmers, paying a fair price, and are involved with the ‘180 Day Pasture Promise’ to guarantee free range milk production. Their Leader funding will be used to modernise the out-dated dairy, helping the brothers to increase production and offer a wider range of products, including butter.

The programme is designed to offer support to increase farm productivity, as well as support for micro and small enterprises and farm diversification, rural tourism, the provision of rural services, support for cultural and heritage activity and for increasing forestry productivity. Grants will be awarded for 40% of the full cost of a project. There is a handbook and guidance notes available from the South Pennines Leader website at www.southpenninesleader.co.uk

The Leader funding is designed to promote local productivity in the South Pennines and as such can be accessed by many different types of businesses and organisations. Manufacturers creating or processing distinctive locally derived products that promote the South Pennines may be eligible to apply, as may designer-maker businesses creating locally distinctive products with associated retailing, workshops, courses and visitor products. Recreational businesses structuring their business around the local landscape and its recreational opportunities, and social enterprises delivering local community services may also be eligible.