Fresh funds follow LEADER

A new round of funding for rural communities was unveiled last week, after the Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER Programme announced that it was making a fresh call for new applications to access some £600,000 of available funding.

The LEADER funding programme, which is financed by the European Community and Scottish Government, had been closed to new applications in September 2011 after the Local Action Group had awarded all remaining funds to community projects. However, as a result of savings which have been made from some current projects and an additional allowance from the Scottish Government, funds have been made available for new projects throughout Aberdeenshire.

The Local Action Group is now encouraging applications from groups across the area. It is likely the available budget, in the region of £600,000, will also enable two further application rounds later in the year.

“I am delighted to announce that from today Aberdeenshire LEADER will be accepting new applications”, said Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Economic Development and LAG chairperson, Belinda Miller.

“We expect there will be three assessment rounds in 2012, which will be a welcome boost for local groups developing projects.

“In the four years since the programme was launched, 114 projects have been awarded LEADER funding. LEADER has delivered tangible benefit to rural Aberdeenshire.”

The council’s LEADER Co-ordinator, Vicky Thomson, added: “We expect strong interest from community groups and other eligible bodies over the coming months.

“Priority will be given to robust applications for projects which demonstrate a strong match funding profile and can complete within a defined timescale.”

Between 2008 and 2011, the Rural Aberdeenshire Local Action Group committed almost £4 million of awards to projects over a series of 13 application rounds.

Funding is awarded to projects which can demonstrate broad community benefit and aid in the delivery of the overarching themes of ‘revitalising communities’ and a ‘progressive rural economy’. The Local Action Group will consider a grant rate of up to 50% of total eligible costs.

However, a condition of successful applications is that projects should be at what administrators describe as ‘an advanced stage of development’. Additionally, projects should be able to spend all of the funding which they have been awarded by March 2014.

There will be a deadline for first submissions for new applications of April 30.

Potential applicants should contact Jamie Wilkinson, LEADER project officer, for advice prior to applying on (01467) 628262, or at Jamie.wilkinson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Further information on LEADER funding is also available online at www.aberdeenshireleader.org