The new LEADER Rural Development programme for South Aberdeenshire was launched on Wednesday 18th November. With an allocation of £2.8 million of EU and Scottish Government funds.

South Aberdeenshire Local Action Group have now held two funding rounds and are proud to announce its ongoing support to our South Aberdeenshire Rural Communities regards the uncertainty that surrounds landscape of Rural Development Funding in the years to come.

In the first funding rounds, Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER Local Action Group has awarded £225,475 towards 3 new projects.

Delighted at the progress of the LEADER Programme in South Aberdeenshire, LAG Chairman Liam Smyth from Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce said:

“It is great to see that South Aberdeenshire Local Action Groups intervention has managed to secure the investment in these projects that will represent project worth of over £450,000 in rural Aberdeenshire.”

“These projects will also deliver new employment and apprenticeship opportunities and enable communities to attract discretionary spend from the wider community and tourism into their area.”

Recent approvals include:

  • Strathorn Riding School Development
  • Finzean Farm Shop Development
  • Ringlink Internship Programme

EU Programmes Co-Ordinator Alasdair Cunningham, said: “The 2 funding rounds held to date has generated a lot of interest from the Rural Business Sector. It’s great to see modern Rural Businesses striving to improve and enhance the provision of services and facilities to our Local Rural Communities and beyond”.

“New proposals for Round 3 and 4 are currently being worked on and a number of innovative projects are coming forward. ”

“South Aberdeenshire Local Action Group are looking for projects that assist them deliver our Local Development Strategy and must meet at least 1 of the following themes;

  1. Connecting People and Place
  2. Developing Key Economic Sectors
  3. Promoting and Protecting the Environment
  4. Enriching and Positive Activities for All
  5. Co-Operating with other Countries and Areas

Further Details of the strategy can be found at

If you have a project in a position that requires that final push of grant assistance to make it happen, we strongly recommend you get in touch and let’s make your project happen!

The South Aberdeenshire Local Action Group has received many positive comments from successful applicants who have appreciated the support they have received for their projects.


Project: Strathhorn Riding School – Grant £100,000
Development of a New Purpose Built Riding School.
Graham Skinner a representative of the business said “We have been farming at Strathorn since the 1930s and have maintained a keen interest in horses since the early days when they were used to work the land. In 1991 we started a Riding School and Stables, building it up by converting existing farm buildings and employing local staff to teach. We have also been home to the Garioch Carriage Driving for the Disabled since 1989.

We have a strong community spirit at Strathorn and are dedicated to providing the best service possible to our patrons, for many years now we have had the desire to improve our facilities to match our high standards in service. Funding our aspirations has always been a challenge, but when we heard about the goals of the LEADER programme – with the aim of helping to create a long-term legacy of vibrant, healthy and inclusive rural communities – the fit between us was immediately obvious. We worked closely with SALAG on the proposal, and received excellent support with clear guidance. We were extremely happy to learn we had been successful with our application.

Securing LEADER funding to assist in the development costs of our new Indoor Horse Riding and Driving School has secured employment for our current staff, given us the potential to grow, to employ more people, and reach a wider section of the community. We will include a social area where people can meet, relax, and make new friends. The building will also be large enough for our Disabled drivers to practice indoors.   It has given us the confidence to invest more in the development to ensure we provide the highest quality facilities possible”.


Project: Finzean Farm Shop Development – Grant £85,087
Development of the existing Farm Shop to improve the customer experience and provide a pop-up post Office area.
As a fully committed team, all of us at the Finzean Estate Farm Shop & Tearoom were thrilled to learn that our application had been successful.   Leader Funding has given us the impetus to move forward with our extension plans which will provide accommodation for a ‘pop-up’ Post Office, delivery and collection of daily newspapers, free WiFi facilities for all customers and some much needed additional seating in the Tearoom.   This, in turn, will create opportunities and help us to employ and train more local youngsters and adults wishing to return to the workplace.     We are delighted that residents and visitors feel that the Finzean Farm Shop provides a real community hub in a rural area and this financial support from SALAG has encouraged us to continue to provide and expand something worthwhile for the community.


Project: Ringlink Internship Programme – Grant £40,388
To employ an Internship Co-Ordinator to develop the Internship Programme focusing on getting fresh blood into our Rural Farms and Estates.
Ringlink Scotland is delighted that funding from the South Aberdeenshire Local Action Group (LAG) has been awarded under the Leader Programme.

Now in its fourth year the internship offers a clear pathway into rural employment for young people keen to leave the classroom and get a hands-on introduction to work. This year the scheme has attracted interest throughout South Aberdeenshire and beyond

The funding will now allow us to work towards our objective of a nationally recognised programme providing countrywide opportunities for an increasing number of enthusiastic youngsters to embrace the rural industry as a career of choice.

Graham Bruce, Managing Director of Ringlink Scotland commented: “We are extremely pleased with the way the internship has developed thus far and with the support from the Leader programme this provides us with an excellent platform to develop the internship into a nationally recognised scheme that will add value to the entire industry”.