LEADER is a French acronym, it stands for ‘Liaison Entre Actions de Developpement de l’Economie Rurale’. It roughly translates as ‘Liasion among Actors in Rural Economic Development’.
The LEADER Programme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). It is a strand of European funding that is controlled at the local level, by local people, the intention being that local people have the best knowledge of the issues affecting their neighbourhood.
The programme will run until December 2020 and replaces the previous LEADER Programme which ran from 2007 to 2013.
The funding is split across the UK into many different areas and each geographic area (representing a rural population of no more than 150,000 people) is run by a different group of local people. These people make up the Local Action Groups (LAG).
The funding is spread nationally and within Hampshire, there are four Local Action Groups representing four LEADER geographic areas. These are; Loddon and Test, New Forest LEADER Programme, North Wessex Downs LEADER Programme and Fieldfare LEADER Programme.
The aims of the LEADER Programme are to support growth, innovation and community development within rural populations. Any projects we support must show how they will create jobs, develop rural businesses and support the rural economy and community. They must also demonstrate a sustainable approach. This should take into account environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. In other words, every project should contribute to a better quality of life, maintaining and/or enhancing the quality of the environment around it.