The Local Development Strategy of Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (NULAG) ~ Rural Affairs with Dagmar Winter

22/10/2014

NULAG 2014 – 2020 

Northumberland Uplands LEADER Local Development Strategy 2014-2020Having invited you earlier in the year to take part in the consultations run by Northumberland Uplands (NULAG), Coast & Lowlands, and North Pennine & Dales LEADER Local Action Groups respectively, I now want to report back on the Local Development Strategy of NULAG we have come up with and which has been submitted to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

We are expecting a reply in November which may include some requests for amendments.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have responded and taken part in the consultations, whether online or in person. We have had a very positive response indeed which gave us a statistically valid sample.

My little foreword to the Local Development Strategy (LDS) states: "NULAG is grateful for generous support from our partners, especially Northumberland County Council (NCC), Northumberland National Park Authority (NNPA), other stakeholders and many individual residents in the Northumberland Uplands. We all coalesce around common goals for the economic, environmental and social well-being of our community and look forward to working together within the bottom-up, place-based LEADER approach."

Truth be told, despite the ethos of LEADER being community-led and bottom-up, there has been significant criticism of this coming round of LEADER funding in that (not the EU but) Defra have been very directive in the framework they have set out for an LDS.

What is our background?

Between 2008 and 2013, NULAG used the European LEADER approach to promote bottom-up, place-based decision making and development. The place-based approach should ensure that development is appropriate for the area. LEADER sees local people as the main asset of rural areas and empowers them to decide what best suits their aspirations, needs, environment, culture, traditions and skills. Between 2008 and 2013 NULAG supported 79 projects, distributed almost £2 million of LEADER funding, drew in £2.3 million of matched funding, created 40 new jobs and helped 22 micro-businesses start up. Between 2008 and 2013 NULAG invested in a broad range of projects, including micro-enterprises, land management initiatives, community buildings, skills and training, tourism projects, local arts, community shops, and wood fuel programmes.

What next?
In the new round of LEADER 2014 - 2020, we intend to support a slightly smaller number of projects, but create nearly twice as many new jobs. This is a challenge in one of England's most remote and sparsely populated areas!

The six themes of the LDS have to reflect national priorities, and below each of these I have listed indicative examples of projects envisaged:

• Increasing farm productivity
- include animal health, bio-security and business performance
- Young Farmer mentoring network and apprenticeships

• Micro and small enterprises and diversification
- create space for micro businesses in rural business hubs
- facilitate collaborative investment in renewable technology to create local energy networks


• Rural Tourism
- support new social and economic activities which reflect the tranquil and remote nature of the Uplands
- encourage an indoor adventure activities venue in the Uplands to extend the season

• Provision of rural services
- support the diversification of village halls and shops to provide a wider range of locally-delivered services as local hubs
- promote a car sharing scheme

• Cultural and heritage activity
- Develop a noncompetitive craft forum or co-op to market traditional Upland crafts
- a delegated grants scheme to expand traditional skills to young people to disseminate within the wider community

• Increasing forestry productivity
- Support the creation of a Mutual Ownership structure to provide advice and finance for installation of domestic and commercial biomass heating systems
- Encourage and support the intake of new entrants and apprenticeship

There is much to do and some of the projects requested and needed in our area cannot be delivered by NULAG alone or indeed at all due to restrictions on what we can fund. However, NULAG will be looking to work with Northumberland County Council (as Accountable Body), the Northumberland National Park Authority, the Local North East Enterprise Partnership, the Forestry Commission, the NFU, Northumberland Tourism, North East Farming and Rural Advisory Network, the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, to name but a few.

If you'd like to know more, visit the website: www.nuleader.eu

 

 

 

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