In 2014, all prospective Local Actions Groups (LAGs) across the UK, were asked to develop a Local Strategy to bring together the aims and objectives of their particular local geographic area. This strategy had to explore the specific local issues and priorities and develop a programme of consultation in order to ensure that a wide representation was gathered when drafting the local priorities the LAG would aim to fund. After several months of consultation with local businesses, communities and farm networks, a strategy was produced that would set the foundations for the future LEADER programme that has now commenced.
The Loddon and Test strategy identified four specific gaps where they felt funding would most benefit their local area. These were developed specifically for the local needs based on statistics for the area, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and other various forms of consultation. The Loddon and Test Strategy showed four distinct key priorities, as well as a further cross-cutting priority aiming to promote sustainable working and living in the Local Action Group (LAG) area. It is these priorities that will direct what we will fund for this LEADER Programme.
Local Priority 1: Supporting innovation for a sustainable future for farming, rural economies and communities.
Local Priority 2: Enabling and supporting new and existing rural enterprises and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), while benefitting the rural economy and rural community.
Local Priority 3: Boosting the rural tourism economy to benefit local rural communities while enhancing and protecting the landscape, heritage and culture of the area.
Local Priority 4: Improving the financial viability and productivity of forestry through innovation in accessibility and processing, and the development of the market and supply chain.
The cross cutting priority which applies to all of the above priorities, focuses on sustainability. It will aim to encourage rural economies and communities to be more sustainable by developing green technologies and sustainable working practices, while benefitting and enhancing the landscape, biodiversity, heritage and culture. All projects funded must adopt a sustainable approach with equal opportunities.
For further information on these priorities, including target groups, rationale, objectives and examples of what we could fund, please download the full version of the Loddon and Test Local Development Strategy