£1.55 million available to boost rural areas in the county

Released on January 29, 2018

Grants of up to £100,000 are available to community groups, small businesses farmers and foresters for projects that support the rural economy.  

The Oxfordshire LEADER fund aims to support a wide range of activities in the countryside such as assisting local small businesses, supporting local heritage and cultural events, attracting tourism and visitors increasing foresters and farmer’s productivity and helping to diversify services.   

Contributions are available for capital costs such as building work, equipment and for projects located in the Oxfordshire LEADER area until September this year. 

Last year the LEADER programme awarded local environmental charity Sylva Foundation nearly £24,000 to build a new forestry yard at their Wood Centre in Long Wittenham.  The centre is a dynamic hub for wood-using businesses with Face North Forestry, a fast-growing company, recently moving into a new yard on site. 

The Oxfordshire Leader Action Group (LAG) decide where the LEADER funds are awarded and is made up of representatives from local trusts, organisations and district councils.  

The LAG is chaired by South Oxfordshire district councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, who said, “Our group visited the Sylva Wood Centre and were delighted to see how the funds were supporting innovative small wood businesses and impressed at the overriding ethos of the Sylva Wood Foundation.” 

Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation, said, “The addition of the forestry yard is crucial to seeing more local timber being used by the businesses we support.  The development was supported by a LEADER grant, which was vital to take this project forward.” 

Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry said, “Moving into the yard has allowed me to grow my business and add value to the timber I fell.  Being based at the Sylva Wood Centre means there is a readymade customer base for my products.” 

Oxfordshire LEADER is welcoming expressions of interest for support until September this year and all funds will be allocated by March 2019.  For further information on the programme and criteria for funding, visit the website http://www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk/ 

If your project is eligible, you can contact Sophie, programme manager, on 01235 422245 or email Oxfordshire.leader@southandvale.gov.uk for further guidance.


Money from the Oxfordshire LEADER Programme comes from DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. 

The Oxfordshire LEADER Programme is being administered from South Oxfordshire District Council on behalf of Vale of White Horse, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire District Councils. 

South Oxfordshire District Council previously oversaw the successful Southern Oxfordshire Programme between 2008 – 2013, which saw a total of 61 wide ranging projects receive a share of £1.2 million in grants.  These included a microbrewery in an old farm building, a cold store for turkey and goose sales, moorings by the River Thames and new village shops.  These projects also attracted more than £2.5 million grants from the private sector and other funding.