£3 million fund for local communities open for applicants

Autumn Harvest images taken looking towards Edgehead from D'Arcy Farm''by Tony Newjem, of Newtongrange
Autumn Harvest images taken looking towards Edgehead from D'Arcy Farm''by Tony Newjem, of Newtongrange

The Scottish Borders LEADER fund is now open, with almost £3million available for economic, community and environmental development in rural areas.

Following community consultation, the Scottish Borders LEADER Local Development Strategy has been devised, focusing on ‘enterprising communities’.

The strategy aims to support small and micro rural businesses, farm diversification projects and social enterprises in the key rural Borders sectors of tourism, food and drink, creative industries and renewables. The aim is to develop people and jobs, improve community networks, foster leadership and expand skills and training opportunities.

Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s executive member for economic development, said: “LEADER funding is excellent news for the Borders as it will help to strengthen our economy by enabling the development of sustainable, innovative businesses and community projects that will create jobs and skills training for people in rural areas.”

It is expected that the fund will award the first grants in June. Decisions are made by the Local Action Group, 19 people from local business and community organisations, including public sector representatives.

The new Scottish Borders LEADER fund offers Community and Co-operation Projects Funding of £2million, with grants between £5,000 and £150,000.

£400,000 is set aside for Rural Business Funding with grants between £5,000 and €70,000 or £50,000, whichever is the smaller.

Farm Diversification Projects have been allocated £400,000, with grants between £5,000 and €70,000 or £50,000, whichever is the smaller. There is a maximum of 50 per cent funding.