£1.5million funding is made available for Oxfordshire’s rural economy

Organisations and individuals with ideas on how to boost our rural economy are again being encouraged to apply for grants from a new £1.5millon fund for Oxfordshire.

The Oxfordshire LEADER Programme is offering grants to farmers, rural businesses, communities and those managing rural land who have a project that would contribute to one or more of the following themes:

– reviving the waterways – specifically the River Thames and Oxford Canal

– ‘get growing, get selling and get eating local’ – improving the processing and marketing of local food

– unlocking the potential of woodland – actively managing woodland and developing local distribution network for woodfuel, timber and wood products

– vibrant villages – creating more economic activity to stop villages becoming dormant with limited opportunities.

Cllr John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This funding is good news for rural communities across the county. We’ve already seen the previous scheme have a real benefit in southern Oxfordshire so it’ll be interesting to see what projects come forward now.”

Applications need to be based within the Oxfordshire LEADER area – to check if you are in this area please see the LEADER map.

Cllr Elaine Ware, Cabinet Member for Economy, Leisure and Property at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “There are many rural communities across the county who could benefit from this new funding. It is now very much up to local people and businesses to come up with viable projects that could boost their area and support the aims of the Oxfordshire LEADER Programme.”

The Oxfordshire LEADER Programme is being administered by South Oxfordshire District Council who previously oversaw the successful Southern Oxfordshire LEADER Progamme, which ran between 2008 and 2013. The Southern Oxfordshire Programme saw a total of 61 wide ranging projects receive a share of £1.2million in grants, including a microbrewery in an old farm building, a cold store for turkey and goose sales, moorings by the River Thames and new village shops. These projects also attracted more than £2.5million grants from the private sector and other funding.

Grant awards will be assessed by a Local Area Group (LAG), a non-political group that brings together public, private and community representatives to bring forward, support, fund and monitor projects.

Grants are available from 2015 to 2020 with the first awards being made in June 2015. Anyone with a viable idea to boost their local area should email Amanda Holland or call her on 07717 271909.