|Old School Brewery, a microbrewery based near Warton Crag, has benefitted from the LEADER fund. Photo: Lancahsire County Council|
The funding can support a range of activities such as business development, farming, rural services, culture and heritage, and forestry and can be used for a variety of different uses such as buying equipment and business expansion - as long as projects involve business growth, job creation or both.
LEADER aims to create jobs and help businesses grow, which will then benefit the rural economy. The scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England and is partly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (LEADER is a French acronym, which roughly translates as 'Liaison among Actors in Rural Economic Development').
Lancashire County Council deliver the funding on behalf of the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Rural Payments Agency.
"We've previously supported a wide range of rural companies and organisations across the county, and want to help more this time around.
"The current round of funding closes towards the end of January, so people are encouraged to apply straight away."
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, added: "We're particularly pleased that this year's funding could support cultural and heritage projects, and the provision of rural services for local people.
"The LEADER programme encourages the involvement of local rural communities. Decisions on which projects to fund are taken by local representatives from businesses, the public and community organisations. Their local knowledge and expertise is used to decide how funding is allocated in their area."
Locally, one company that has benefitted from funding is the Old School Brewery, a microbrewery situated at the foot of Warton Crag.
In 2011, they received planning approval to turn an old 'at risk' building into a brew house. They worked with Rural Futures planning facilitation service to secure the planning permission and were signposted to LEADER funding, securing £41,000 towards the cost of renovating the building and brewing equipment. The project has created three full-time posts in the brewery, three part-time posts for bar/catering staff who work at functions and events and also casual staff who help out as and when required.
Farmyard Ales in Cockerham, near Lancaster, received 40 per cent funding towards the building of another new micro-brewery, which will create five new jobs once it's open.
Other companies which have received this funding in the past year include FB Eminson & Son and Lovania Nurseries in Tarleton and Box Tree Farm Camping Cabins, in Wenningtonin the Lune Valley.
• To find out more about the funding and how it could help your business, contact Karen Lawrenson on 01772 538797 or Louise Kite on 01772 534134, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more details by visiting www.lancashire.gov.uk/rural-development