Northumberland Coast & Lowlands LEADER

The LEADER programme will provide grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy.

The LEADER programme provided grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that created jobs and growth in the rural economy.

Find out more here. 

Northumberland Coast and Lowlands LEADER is closed to new Expressions of Interest and Applications.

Northumberland Coast & Lowlands Celebration Event Brochure 2019 (PDF version can be found here)

Rural Development Programme for England

unnamed.pngCoast & Lowlands uses a bottom-up community led approach to deliver funds from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). RDPE is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union. Coast & Lowlands LAG is supported by Northumberland County Council.

Welcome to the 2014 – 2020 Northumberland Coast and Lowlands LEADER programme website

In early 2015 we heard we had successfully secured £2.481 million to provide grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy in the Coast and Lowlands LEADER area, which runs north from Lynemouth along the Northumberland coast to the Scottish Border and inland covering Berwick, Alnwick, Morpeth, and also includes the area south of Morpeth through Stannington towards Ponteland.

Some 70% of the available funding will be used to support projects designed to directly support creation of jobs and growth and the remaining 30% to indirectly support jobs and growth.

Our website is home to all our most important programme information, documentation and news so we hope you find it useful.
LEADER is a community led approach to delivering EU funding into rural businesses and communities and is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). 

The LEADER programme will provide grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy.

All activity that will be supported by and delivered through the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands LEADER Programme will fit within the structure created by our Local Development Strategy (LDS).

The LDS is a document that was developed throughout 2014 and outlines not only the structure, processes and procedures which the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands LEADER Programme will operate but also sets out under each of the six programme priorities the types of activity that we will be looking to support.
LEADER is a bottom-up, community-led approach to delivering rural and community development through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

The term LEADER comes from a French acronym standing for ‘Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale’, meaning ‘Links between the rural economy and development actions’.

In practice, it is a method of delivering rural development in rural communities where local people have the opportunity to take funding decisions at a local level in line with their local development strategy, a plan that identifies priority funding for LEADER areas.

Experience has shown that LEADER can make a real difference to the daily lives of people in rural areas. LEADER encourages rural territories to explore new ways to become or to remain competitive, to make the most of their assets and to overcome the challenges they may face.

LEADER contributes towards improving the quality of life in rural areas recognising that being competitive in the production of food, having an attractive environment and creating job opportunities for local populations are mutually supportive aspects of rural life, requiring specific skills, appropriate technologies and services that need to be tackled as a coherent package and with tailored policy measures.

The LEADER approach is seen by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who manage the RDPE, as an important way of addressing rural needs and is based on a community led, bottom-up approach to rural development.

It is important to note that as part of mainstream RDPE, the current LEADER programme has a stronger economic emphasis than previously.
The Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Local Action Group has met to consider and approve projects. A brief synopsis of some of these projects is shown below.

Since October 2008, the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Local Action Group has met to consider and approve projects. A brief synopsis of some of these projects is shown below.

East Chevington Marsh Harrier project

The first recorded breeding of Marsh Harriers in Northumberland for 130 years led to a community project being set up to encourage local people to volunteer in the ‘watch’.

The chicks fledged at Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s (NWT) reserve at East Chevington last summer and as with most birds of prey, Marsh Harriers are nest site loyal so it is extremely likely that they will return this year. 

In preparation, a ‘watch’ project was established including a warden who manages a team of volunteers during the breeding season to provide a high level of security for the nesting birds.

Funding of £32,000 was approved through the Coast and Lowlands Local Action Group.

A public viewing point has been created containing interpretive panels and a live link camera for educational activities and viewing events.

North Northumberland Tourism Association

THE first project to be approved and funded by the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Leader Programme; North Northumberland Tourism Association (NNTA) were awarded £3,900 to help produce and distribute an 'essential guide' booklet for visitors to the area.

The guide publicised the beauty of the area, highlighting key sites of historical interest and natural beauty as well as local tourism businesses.

Shilbottle Village Hall

AFTER several years fund-raising, Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Leader was able to help people in Shilbottle finalise the funding needed to begin a new build Community Hall.

The building will use environmentally-friendly technologies for heat and energy generation, such as a wind turbine and ground source heat pumps, as well as rain water harvesting and natural light and ventilation, have also been incorporated.

The majority of the funding needed came through the Big Lottery Fund with £434,000 worth of support. Other funding for the project came from the Football Foundation which provided £100,000; £200,000 from Alnwick District Council; £20,000 from smaller charities and over £20,000 from community donations and the parish council.

Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Leader gave £52,000.

The project also fully engages the local community with, for example, the first school, planning to follow the construction work carefully and use it as a topic for lessons.

Lindisfarne charcoal

Natalie Dale has set up Lindisfarne Charcoal thanks to LEADER in Northumberland Coast and Lowlands.

A young woman with a burning desire to set up her own business and play her part in supporting her local community, Natalie has achieved her dreams after establishing Lindisfarne Charcoal.

The business has received more than £14,000 funding through the Coast and Lowlands Local Action Group.

The funding was used to purchase specialist tools such as charcoal production kilns and chain-saws, helping Natalie produce traditionally made charcoal from locally sourced timber which has been grown and cut within carefully managed and maintained broadleaf woodlands.

Parks protection

A LEADER transnational project which developed economic activities through educational tourism in important protected areas of natural environment, such as the Northumberland Coast.

The project included the organisation of a series of education weeks aimed at employees and graduate students in the areas of
countryside and environmental management, nature tourism, and heritage interpretation.

The English educational week was held in April 2013 in Northumberland, with 15 participants taking part. The educational week in Latvia took place in May 2013, and the final educational week taking place in Greece in July 2013.

As well as the educational weeks the project involved development of a website, digital applications and a “how-to” toolbox to share
the information and learning which the project delivers.

Aln Valley Railway Phase 2 - Track Materials to Bridge 6 

A funding grant of £35,462.00 was awarded 

Phase 1, completed with the help of a previous LEADER grant, was to build a new station and visitor centre at Lionheart in Alnwick. The station offers train rides on track within the station area. The present application (Phase 2) is for funding to purchase track materials to extend the line from Lionheart Station to Bridge 6 on the old trackbed 

Coffee Roaster Expansion
A funding grant of £9,538.00 was awarded 

This larger roaster has allowed increased production and improved product consistency/quality. It roasts the coffee beans at high 210C temperature, but only takes 1.75 hours for a much larger batch, compared to a 9 hours process for the smaller roaster used previously. This has direct benefits in freeing up time for other work, particularly packing as this is quite labour intensive but allows them to add a personal touch.Each retail pack is date stamped with roast date to highlight product freshness. This business will then be able to expand by supplying more coffee to existing trade customers and attracting new customers

Rigg & Furrow (Forest Brewery)
A funding grant of £34,395.63 was awarded

Rigg and Furrow will transform an unused milking parlour into a production microbrewery, with a capacity of 10 Brewers Barrels (1600 litres) per brew. The aim of the Brewery is to brew beer with a true sense of place (terroir) which reflects the true character of our family farm in rural Northumberland.

The beer is brewed with malted barley and hops grown on the farm, and fermented with a house strain of yeast cultured from local fruit and flowers. The objective is to build a successful brand, emulating  the success of American Farmhouse breweries

Wood Chipper for Sustainable  Woodland Management
A funding grant of £3,600.00 was awarded 

To aid the expansion of their business the applicant purchased a wood chipper at an approximate cost of £8000. The purpose of the wood chipper is to help with woodland management services across Northumberland. 

Fresh Meat Production / Dedicated Cutting Unit
A funding grant of £33,688.00 was awarded 

This project has allowed the applicant to streamline the production of its fresh meat and fresh meat products. By processing fresh meats in a dedicated cutting unit, the business is able to  increase efficiency and enable production of retail packs of local Northumbrian meats and meat products for sale through their existing retail store in Alnwick town centre. The unit has provided the space to utilise new equipment to achieve this. The project allowed the business to expand sales and production leading to the creation of new jobs within the business.

Chathill Straw Pelleting Plant
A funding grant of £87,380.00 was awarded 

The aim of this project was to create a fixed straw pelleting plant at Chathill Farm,  using byproducts from harvesting grain such as straw and convert them into a commodity with a number of different markets and outlets at an increased value to its raw state. Straw pellets are produced in-house from the farms own source of straw and from a locally bought in supply, The straw pellets produced can be used for fuel for biomass boiler systems as an alternative to woodchip, bedding for livestock and horses, feed for livestock, pet litter/bedding. 

A local action group (LAG) is made up of people from the local community and the local public and private sector.

Local action groups A local action group (LAG) is made up of people from the local community and the local public and private sector.
  • LAGs must include partners from different sections of the local community: public sector, private sector and civil society, as well as important sectors such as farming and forestry.
  • LAGs must have a mix of public / private and socio-economic interests, and with no single interest group having more than 49% of voting rights.
  • The LAG, as a decision making body, aims at being gender balanced with fair representation of the specific target groups addressed by the LDS, such as young people, ethnic minorities, disadvantaged people, vulnerable groups.
  • LAG members must also have the appropriate competencies and skills to generate and support development activity.
Northumberland Coast and Lowlands LEADER has a LAG made up of public and private partners including representatives from different socio-economic sectors. The LAG plays an important role in encouraging innovative responses to old and new rural problems and helps to build local capabilities


LAGs decide which projects they will fund in their area. This depends on their priorities but all projects must support one or more of the six LEADER priorities. These are to:
  • support micro and small businesses and farm diversification
  • boost rural tourism
  • increase farm productivity
  • increase forestry productivity
  • provide rural services
  • provide cultural and heritage activities
  • Ross Lowrie (Chair)
  • Alex Wallace (Vice Chair)
  • Guy Renner-Thompson (NCC Representative)
  • Richard Waters
  • Ross Weddle
  • Philip Angier
  • Angus Collingwood-Cameron
  • Simon Cox
  • Julien Lake
  • Jean Orr
  • Iain Robson
  • Robert Brotherton
  • Louis Fell
  • Carron Craighead
  • Ian Moyes


  • Carole Moyes
  • Nic Best
  • Brenda Fordy Scott
All the latest news and meetings

£1 million milestone reached

Following on from a successful summer and autumn in 2017, Northumberland Coast and Lowlands LEADER Local Action Group is continuing to attract applications and invest funds into the rural economy of Northumberland.

In acknowledgement of the increasing demand the Local Action Group held two panel meetings In January 2018 to consider applications received and after approvals has now reached the milestone of over £1 Million directly allocated to businesses and community groups in the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands area.

The grants awarded cover projects across the LEADER priorities including awards for farming, forestry, business, tourism and heritage projects

Northumberland Coast & Lowlands LEADER office: Address: Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF Mobile: 07920 184617 Email: