Somerset County Council

Rural Economic Regeneration


Somerset is a predominantly rural county with only a few larger towns. The rural economy is vulnerable and facing change and uncertainty. 

We lead a number of initiatives looking to address the challenges of the rural economy. The principal initiatives are European Funded programmes run in conjunction with partners across Somerset, through the Rural Development Programme for England, under the LEADER banner.   

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is jointly funded by European Union/Commission through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (Europe investing in Rural Areas and National Government) and Defra.

The LEADER areas are:

Somerset Levels and Moors LEADER
The Somerset Levels and Moors programme has secured £1.6 million of European funding. The area extends from the Somerset coast around Burnham and Brean, inland to the areas surrounding the towns of Glastonbury, Street, Somerton and Wells;  from Axbridge in the north of the area to South Petherton in the south. Full details of the area covered can be found by using the Levels and Moors LEADER website link in Information and Resources.

Western Somerset LEADER
This programme has secured £1.4 million of European funding. The Programme covers West Somerset, Exmoor, the Quantocks, 10 Parishes (Wiveliscombe and the surrounding villages) and some addition Taunton Deane parishes. Full details can be found by using the Western Somerset LEADER website link in Information and Resources.

Making it Local 
The Somerset area of this programme covers the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the towns of Wellington, Ilminster and Chard. Full details can be found by using the Making It Local website link in Information and resources.

Heart of Wessex
The Somerset area of this programme covers part of Mendip and South Somerset, east of Shepton Mallet, Glastonbury and Street and encompasses Wincanton, Ilchester and Frome.  Full details can be found by using the Heart of Wessex website link in Information and Resources.

Who can apply?
Private businesses, farmers, foresters, third sector organisations and tourism operators can apply for LEADER funds.

This round of funds (2014 to 2020) is strongly focused on economic growth and jobs. The LAG will decide which projects it will fund in its area, based on each area’s Local Development Strategy, all projects must support one or more of the 6 national LEADER priorities.

These are to:

1. Support to increase farm productivity
2. Support for micro and small business and farm diversification
3. Support for rural tourism
4. Provision of rural services
5. Support for cultural and heritage activity
6. Support for increasing forestry productivity

How do I apply?
If you have an idea for a project that could qualify for funding, please look first to see if your idea relates to one of the areas covered by LEADER funding. You can find more information and application forms on the appropriate website. 

The next stage is to contact the appropriate person for an initial discussion. If you are not certain about who to contact, please use the contact details here and we will be pleased to help.


Contact: Economy and Planning
Address: Somerset County Council, County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY
Phone: 0300 123 2224

Opening Hours: Monday 8am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm Saturday and Sunday closed.

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