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.
The programme supported in excess of 300 businesses across north and east Lancashire and achieving or exceeding the programme outputs. It established a network of contacts and encouraged businesses to work together both as collaborative industry partners and creating a recognised charter mark. Key to the programme was its ability to support both economic and environmental initiatives so helping to maintain a sustainable rural economy.
The result was assistance given to a wide range of rural projects in a broad range of sectors for example:
Knowledge based economy - A business was assisted to develop and market a product and service which taught enterprise skills in schools.
Creative industries – Groups of artists were supported to establish and promote arts trails.
Food & drink – Promotional activity was supported for a cluster of cheese-makers. resulting in joint marketing and exhibition presence promoting Lancashire cheese.
Tourism – A number of rural tourism operators were assisted to improve their facilities and to improve their websites and information promoting what they and the local area offered.
Innovation – A flat pack water butt was developed; an innovative new product which overcomes storage and distribution problems of traditional products.
Renewable energy - A wide range of renewable energy technologies were supported including: wood fuel systems, solar hot water and ground source heat pumps providing heat and wind turbines and solar photovoltaics creating electricity.
Waste management - Waste management systems including reedbeds to clean waste water and systems to manage food waste from hotels were supported.
Habitat improvement – A conservation trust was assisted with work to reduce riverbank erosion and improve visitor information on major trout and salmon rivers.
The Rural Futures team managed the project from concept to conclusion, dealing with all the issues of eligibility, appraisal, claims, reporting, and dealing with issues arising from audit procedures.