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Projects still have a chance to get cash help

Grassington, 19 September, 2012.

Business and community groups in the Yorkshire Dales National Park still have time to bid for cash to help them start local projects.

The latest round of applications for money from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) was launched earlier in the year and has already attracted a wide range of ideas.

And with the October 5 deadline fast approaching, organisers are hoping to hear about other great ideas that need a financial hand.

Clapham-based charity the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) has managed the fund on behalf of the Authority throughout the 10 years of its existence and has given out more than £1.75 million to 175 projects so far.

The successful projects either create local jobs or training opportunities, or improve the range of facilities and services available to local communities, at the same time bringing environmental benefits.

Peter Stockton, the National Park Authority’s Head of Sustainable Development, said: “The SDF supports new business ideas, community schemes and environment projects and is open to everyone – community groups, businesses, local authorities and individuals.

“It aims to achieve a more sustainable way of living and working in the National Park, while enhancing and conserving our local culture, wildlife, landscape, land use and communities.

“Over the years the Fund has kick started or helped to develop some fantastic projects ranging from the Bainbridge hydro scheme to helping the Wharfedale Beekeepers Association to re-introduce bee keeping at Parcevall Hall.”

Gillian Muir, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s SDF Project officer, said: “We are hoping to receive some last-minute applications before the deadline – it’s a great chance to get some much-needed money to help turn dreams into reality.

 “We accept applications for SDF grants of less than £2,000 all year round and, for applications over this amount, there will be a further two rounds of bids this financial year.”

The SDF was launched in July 2002 and is funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).  
Anyone wanting more information about the SDF can visit the YDNPA’s website at  or contact Gillian at to discuss project ideas. 

Case studies of some of the projects recently helped by SDF grants are listed below.

Weaving looms large
Laura’s Loom is a small, Sedbergh-based business creating bespoke woven products that has expanded over the last five years, in part thanks to SDF cash totalling £4,000.
The first grant in 2007 funded a pilot in which owner Laura Rosenzweig (correct) sourced a small quantity of Bluefaced Leicester fleece from six local farmers in Garsdale, Dentdale and Deepdale and sent it to a commercial spinner in Wales. It was turned into a fine weight weaving yarn and made into limited edition throws on the heritage looms at Farfield Mill in Sedbergh.
Laura hoped that visitors to the western Dales would associate her products with quality and value for money, and not least with the landscape they had been to visit.
Based on the success of the pilot, she applied to SDF again a year later in order to develop her website to promote and sell products from her new Howgill Range online, and experiment with small runs of new items such as baby blankets and yoga shawls.
Laura applied for her latest grant to help raise the profile of her products further, add images to her website, attend a major trade fair and extend her range to include wools for knitting as well as weaving, using different breeds of sheep from within the National Park.
Today, with the help of spinning and weaving companies throughout Yorkshire, Cumbria and the Scottish borders, Laura produces a new range of throws and scarves each year, all woven from locally sourced and processed Dales hill farm wool.

When not gathering in the fleece she continues a tradition of handweaving at her purpose-built private studio in High Brigflatts in Sedbergh, which won a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Best Building Design Award in 2010.

Read more about the Howgill Range and Laura’s journey on her website at
Project cost £3,150                            SDF grant £1,575

A farming education
Chris and Fiona Clark have ideas in abundance for Nethergill Farm in Langstrothdale.

Their long-term aim for this upland sheep farm is to create a wildlife haven combined with a sustainable farming practice, which can financially support them and be enjoyed by other like-minded countryside enthusiasts.

The Clarks aim to demonstrate to their guests and visitors how food, farming and the environment can all work together and, with this in mind, applied to SDF to turn a former agricultural building into a field study centre.

The grant will fund the refurbishment of the barn, a wildlife camera observation system, tree hide/platform, walkways, observation hides, feeding stations, nest boxes and trail signage and the new centre will be opening soon.

As well as having planted a mixed species woodland of 18,000 trees across 30 acres, ongoing projects include working with Natural England on tree-planting schemes up the gill sides to enrich wildlife habitats, and with Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust to reduce river erosion along Oughtershaw Beck.

The farm is in both an Environmentally Sensitive Agreement and a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme and has a green footprint, right through to the 75kW log boiler which provides all the heating and hot water for the farmhouse, B&B, holiday lets and the new centre. The firewood is sourced from nearby Greenfields Forest and logged on the farm by the Gayle Mill firewood processor. 

Find out more by visiting the Nethergill Farm website at

Project cost £44,250                    SDF grant £22,125

Bats galore
Beautiful St Andrews Church in Grinton is a Grade I listed building dating back to Norman times - and is also home to several species of bat. 

The church has worked closely with John Drewett, a volunteer specialist from North Yorkshire Bat group, to identify the species present and colonies of Common and Soprano Pipistrelle bats have been confirmed.

Local fundraising, led by Reverend Caroline Hewlett, and an SDF grant have paid for an interpretation panel, leader fees for bat walks and a detector that will be used to illustrate the sound and location of bats.

It is hoped that the displays will encourage visitors to learn more about this fascinating protected species, as well as about how the National Park provides a great habitat for them.

The project was launched last month (September) with a talk by bat expert Digby Angus and a short walk around the graveyard to try out the new detectors. As dusk fell, at least a dozen Pipistrelles appeared from above a stone mullion window at the front of the church and could be heard on the detectors as they passed overhead.
Project cost £659                            SDF grant £400

Dig this
An archaeological group have been getting their hands dirty on a new project to investigate a Scheduled Monument in Swaledale.

Part funded by a grant from SDF, the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG) has been studying Grinton-Fremington Dykes, a series of banks and ditches, clearly visible to the naked eye, running on both sides of the Swale valley.

The aim is to date the system and assess the environment at the time it was constructed in order to increase academic and popular understanding.

The section being investigated had been severely eroded by a washout largely originating from the practice of moorland gripping - drainage ditches intended to dry out wet moorland tops. It provided a good opportunity to survey and excavate the site while causing minimum damage to unthreatened areas.

Samples were taken for environmental analysis and carbon dating by Durham University’s archaeological services. Staff supervised and trained SWAAG members during the excavation work and a final report will follow for the National Park Authority’s Historic Environment Record.

Information about the project is on the group’s website at and there will also be a series of schools talks, lectures and organised walks about the excavation, with brochures and trail guides produced.

Project cost £7,270                            SDF grant £2,500

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