The objective of the LEADER+ Programme is to assist rural development by supporting experimental, integrated local area-based development strategies, which in turn will encourage the development and testing of new approaches to sustainable rural development. The Programme aims to complement the raft of measures which form part of the England Rural Development Plan. It also moves a step closer towards delivering an integrated rural policy which will help to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions of rural communities. The LEADER+ Programme is funded by the European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGFi) and will support three areas of activity called 'Actions', which have been defined by the European Union,

  • Action 1: Integrated, Pilot Rural Development Plans
    This action assists local action groups in rural areas in developing and implementing high quality, innovative and sustainable development plans

  • Action 2: Co-operation Between Rural Areas
    Local action groups are required to work on joint projects with other groups in the UK, European Union or other countries, by pooling skills and resources to achieve the objectives set out in their development plans

  • Action 3: Networking
    All local action groups exchange ideas and share good practice through a national LEADER+ network

Local action groups are responsible for drawing up and implementing area development strategies. The group must comprise of a balanced and representative selection of partners drawn from the different socio-economic sectors in the local area concerned. Local action group areas must be small, homogeneous in social, economic and geographical terms. As a general rule, the total population in the local action group area will not be less than 10,000 and will not exceed 100,000. The maximum average population density will be around 120 inhabitants per square kilometre. Small variations in these minimum and maximum population levels may be permitted in areas of relatively high or low rural population density.

Action 1: Integrated, Pilot Rural Development Strategies

  • This Action provides a framework within which local action groups in rural areas can identify their needs and then test new approaches to local rural development. The pilot and experimental nature of the approaches to be tested necessarily entails a higher degree of risk than may be acceptable under mainstream measures
  • The results of the Programme are expected eventually to inform rural development policy at national and European Community level. The English authorities will therefore ensure in selecting local action group development plans that the proposed strategies will potentially add significant value to the mainstream measures
  • This core Action will support local action groups in rural areas in developing and implementing high quality, integrated, sustainable and innovative development strategies structured around a strong theme typical of the identity of the area concerned

Action 2: Co-operation Between Rural Areas

  • Action 2 is available only to local action groups selected under Action 1 who wish to co-operate on joint projects to assist them in achieving the objectives and delivering the strategy set out in their development plan. It will entail pooling know-how and/or human and financial resources from within the areas concerned
  • This Action will encourage effective co-operation between rural areas in order to:

    a. achieve the necessary critical mass for a project to be viable; and/or
    b. add value to a project through the bringing together of complementary skills, know-how, equipment, products and/or measures

  • Projects will be undertaken within the framework of the unifying theme set out in the local action group's development plan. The regional objectives and priority target groups set out for Action 1 will therefore also apply for projects under this Action
  • A key role of the UK LEADER+ network will be to facilitate and assist groups wishing to co-operate by providing partner searches for potential co-operation projects. For each co-operation project, one local action group will take on the role of co-ordination

Action 3: Networking

Facilitating the networking of rural areas, whether or not LEADER+ local action groups, will be a high priority for LEADER+. Action 3 has four main objectives:

  • To help optimise the efficiency and efficacy of the Programme's implementation by facilitating dialogue and the transfer of experiences between partnerships within the UK and more widely
  • To stimulate and facilitate co-operation between rural areas, including areas engaged in rural development but not receiving LEADER funding (with support from the EUi network as appropriate)
  • To draw out the lessons learnt from rural development initiatives (extending beyond LEADER+) and to identify and disseminate best practice; and so
  • To stimulate the widest possible experimentation with new approaches to rural development

For the North West region, there are three Leader+i Local Action Groups,

  • Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER+
    The English Nature 'Natural Area' for the Cumbria Fells and Dales including the Lake District National Park

  • Lancashire LEADER+
    North and East Lancashire

  • Northern Marches Leader +
    Cheshire and the Shropshire Plains