An £18,000 LEADER grant led to the production of an extra 200 tonnes of firewood at Lower Gade Farm in Little Gaddesden, acting as an inspiration to other rural business owners to do the same.

After 20 years of building up his business, forester and firewood supplier Rod Wilson reached the point where he had to invest in state-of-the-art machinery in order to keep up with soaring demand for firewood. That’s when he turned to the LEADER grant for help.

With an £18,000 grant came the state-of-the-art processing machinery – and an 200 extra tonnes of firewood per year. Now that’s an outcome that makes the paperwork well worth the effort.

But it’s not just Rod’s business that has benefited. “Most of our timber is cut from less than five miles away,” Rod says. “We carry out a lot of conservation work for the National Trust on its Ashridge Estate. Our new equipment means that we can bring much more of the Trust’s woodland back into productive management – protecting wildlife, providing fuel for the growing market and improving public access.”

Luke Faulkner, LEADER Programme Manager, said: “This is a great example of the help that LEADER can provide to a rural business in need of more efficient equipment in order to sustain itself and potentially grow. We hope to support many small rural businesses with our new available funding and would encourage anyone to get in touch with us to see what a LEADER grant could help them secure.”

LEADER is targeting rural businesses with grants of up to £100,000 available for eligible projects. Over £5 million will be available between now and 2020 in the Chilterns, Clay Vales and North & West Northamptonshire areas.

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