Case Studies

The Rural Futures Team have played the lead role in the following Rural Diversification Projects covering the areas of Farm diversification, Tourism, Renewable energy , Local food and Community initiative.

Langfield Common (HLS) and (UELS) agreements

Langfield Common is a 595ha common in the South Pennines comprising a number of important vegetation mosaics, providing habitat for numerous plants and bird species. The common is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Conservation Area (SCA).

Rural Futures facilitated a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and Upland Entry Level Scheme (UELS) agreement on behalf of 60 gait holders to secure an agreement worth £528,000 over the 10 period, with a further £209,000 of capital payments for walling, footpath and peat restoration.

Lower Fairsnape Farm

Lower Fairsnape Farm was a traditional hill farm. With falling incomes from farming Robert & Anne Gardner were seeking additional sources of income. The farm put 80% of its land into stewardship and woodland schemes. With redundant farm buildings, the Gardners sought assistance to diversify into holiday accommodation. Care for wildlife, habitat and the environment sets this accommodation apart from many others. It has received the Gold standard accreditation of the Green Tourism Business Scheme and, featured in BBC Wildlife magazine.

North West Biogas

The project aims to create the North West’s first commercially operated anaerobic digester. The project will use waste streams from food manufacturing, supermarkets and the meat processing industry to create renewable heat and power.

Old Holly Farm

Old Holly Farm was an established dairy and sheep farm, with a courtyard of traditional but redundant farm buildings. A diversification project was undertaken to create a children’s activity barn, open farm, farm shop and café. Since opening, a further business has been established making ice cream on the site using the farm’s own organic milk. Still a working dairy farm the result is that it reconnects children with the source of food.

Lancashire Cheese Trails and Education

Rural Futures developed a project to promote local food, celebrate its distinctiveness and use it for both tourism promotion and education. Each trail is a short circular walk in the vicinity of the cheesemakers dairies, and where appropriate walkers are encouraged to call in at the dairies, restaurants, pubs and shops nearby which serve local cheese. Each walk is “whey marked” and promoted with a map and leaflet.


The Poorsland Trustees own land and buildings to the east of Slaidburn village. This charitable trust was established in 1826 to benefit the residents of Slaidburn and the surrounding villages. The income for the charity derived from agricultural rents. As returns from the land fell and the traditional buildings deteriorated the Trustees were faced with minimal income and increased liabilities. The project involved converting the buildings into Community workspace and offices for rural micro businesses.

Economic Viability of Farm Scale AD Biogas Production Across Cheshire and Warrington

Rural futures lead the consultancy team which included CNG Services, specialists in biogas to grid and SKM Enviros.

The purpose of this report was to investigate the economic feasibility of different models of farm based AD development within the Cheshire and Warrington area. Given that farms in the study area are predominantly engaged in livestock enterprises, the study focused on AD models in which the primary input material was animal waste with potential secondary feed stocks being derived from off farm energy crops.

More on Farm Scale AD Biogas .... 

Biofuels for transport

Rural Futures have completed a report for County Council in relation to the opportunities and problems in respect of replacing traditional fossil fuels in vehicles with biofuels. 

This analysis looked at the national and local strategies, policies and guidelines and explored a variety of fuel based options in relation to the ability to source the fuels from the county and other sustainable sources. 

The report examined different fuels, bioethanol, biodiesel and biomethane and the various routes to sourcing these fuels from both farmed feedstocks and from waste materials. It examined the practical problems of sourcing the fuels and the potential implications of operating using these fuels.

Bowland Initiative and Lancashire Rural Futures

The Rural Futures team was at the forefront of pioneering a new approach to regeneration in rural areas. Support for regeneration in rural areas was seen as fragmented and remote. Private sector farmers and business owners lacked the knowledge of how to access support and funding. Public sector policies were little understood by the private sector and not integrated within their development plans.

Gulu Renewable Energy Options – Northern Uganda

Rural Futures is providing technical expertise to the programme delivering support associated with AD technology appraisal, feedstock assessment and associated agricultural infrastructure requirements.

AD provides a real opportunity to not only develop a sustainable energy source but also to create opportunities within the region’s agricultural economy. Through a basic power infrastructure program wider benefits will be delivered to the region’s economy, healthcare and educational provision.

Rural Sustainable Marketing Programme

This was a £2.3M EU funded programme which was delivered by the Rural Futures team members in partnership with Lancashire County Council using the LEADER method of delivery. The programme was delivered on time and to budget claiming 99.7% of the available funds.

Rural Futures - providing rural business support via, project planning and management, advising on RDPE and other grants, feasibility studies, business plans and planning advice. Specialists in public sector rural regeneration programme management, delivery, monitoring and evaluation to provide sustainable economic and environmental development including Entry Level (ELS), Upland Entry Level (UELS), Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and Woodland Grant Schemes (WGS). . Experience in renewable energy, local food production, farm and rural business diversification, and community resource and social enterprise projects. Portfolio includes projects in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Gtr. Manchester and throughout the North West and the UK.