European Agriculture Fund For Rural Development

The full estimated cost of the re-instatement is approximately £1.6 million. For the Churnet Valley Railway to meet this cost themselves through ticket sales alone would take multiple decades, especially when also considering the maintenance requirements of the current set-up. This timescale is totally inappropriate for the needs of reconnecting into Leek, and so alternative solutions were sought.

One such solution was found in the European Agricultural Regional Development Fund (EARDF), which is an EU initiative providing grants to help with developing rural areas across member states focusing on three main areas:

  • Fostering the competitiveness of agriculture
  • Ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate action
  • Achieving a balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities, including the creation and maintenance of employment

The third point applies to the Leek extension quite clearly, with the redevelopment of a current brownfield site expected to help increase tourism to the area and subsequently local employment as well. It will also provide the first step in connecting Leek to a railway line, with potential to extend on towards both Alton Towers and Stoke-on-Trent at later dates.

The CVR has applied for a 61.1% grant towards the overall cost of this project

On the 17th March 2023, we received notice from EARDF that we had been awarded a grant, and that this had been raised to a massive 80% intervention rate, which meant we still needed to find 20% a far easier number to manage than previously thought. We subsequently learned that this was the biggest grant awarded in this programme in the UK.

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