Aberdeenshire LEADER Case Studies

The Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER programme 2008-2014 is now closed
Please visit www.local-development.eu for details of the new programme.


Rural Aberdeenshire LAG covers Aberdeenshire minus larger settlements and western parts within Cairngorms National Park.

The LAG’s vision is for vibrant, inclusive, rural communities, with sustainable environmental credentials relating to resource use, energy efficiency, landscape and biodiversity, against a backdrop of economically viable rural businesses and services.

Traditionally, the area has been economically dependent on agriculture, forestry and fishing.   More recently, emphasis is growing for new opportunities through renewable energy developments.

Tourism is also important economically. For example, boat festivals in coastal areas and highland games rural uplands contribute to local economies and wellbeing of rural communities. The LAG area has strong heritage links to cultural activities such as music, literary and creative art.

Challenges facing social and economic fabric include decline in traditional industries, access to facilities and services, distance to markets, housing pressures and rural transport.

Opportunities include diversification within rural industries, ICT supporting rural businesses, emerging renewable energy industries, an expanding tourism sector and an increase in local processing of primary products serving local communities.


Case Study 1

Photograph Courtesy of Banff Coast Tourism Programme


Project Title:  Banff Coast Tourism Programme

Theme:  Progressive Rural Economy        

Priority:  Sustainable Tourism Development

BCTP is an innovative programme to build the rural tourism sector on the Banff coast through actions comprising product development, business development and market development.  The project is supported by LEADER, Scottish Enterprise and Aberdeenshire Council and is delivered by Banff Coast Tourism Partnership.

Specific initiatives aim to increase quality and size of accommodation on offer and improve quality and provision of local food products through uplifted and more clearly focused service provision.

Promotion of the unique coastal environment combined with activities such as wildlife tourism and water sports is improving the positioning of the Banff coast as a tourist destination.

The Tourism Partnership has developed a strategy and action plan to deliver a holistic programme of activity to address weaknesses and build on opportunities available to grow the tourism sector in the area.



The programme is delivering seminars and workshops on service quality, food and accommodation and new product development.  The Tourism Partnership has developed a detailed marketing plan, events guide and website, while also undertaking research identifying new opportunities for Banff Marina and increased accommodation capacity and quality.  In addition, the strategic approach developed through public agencies and private sector businesses working together is key to building the capacity and sustainability of BCTP.

The project is directly supporting the rural economy by providing a mechanism for businesses within the tourism sector to work collaboratively to improve the overall visitor experience in the area.

To read more about the project click here.

Please click on the link for the Banff Coast Tourism Programme website.


Case Study 2


Project Title:  Strichen Community Café

Project Theme:  Revitalising Communities      

Priority:  Innovative Micro Enterprise   

Strichen Community Park Company purchased a derelict site in 1996 with financial assistance throughScottish Land Fund to develop a community amenity.  Strichen Community Park is now 30 acres comprising woodland walks, recreational areas, wildlife gardens and a loch, all managed and maintained by an enthusiastic group of volunteers.

The latest project is the total restoration and expansion of a Victorian Estate Lodge which has been transformed into Strichen Community Café.

The project is supported by Big Lottery, LEADER and Aberdeenshire Council.

The Café, which recently opened, is proving to be a highly popular meeting area for locals and visitors to the Country Park.  Adjacent to the Formartine and Buchan Way, the Café is a welcome resting spot for walkers en route.  There is an immediate benefit with the Café having created part-time posts for a number of youngsters from the Strichen area.  Quality local produce is a key element in the catering provision and local art and crafts will be on sale in the Café.



The community facility enhances the whole complex which sees many visitors throughout the year.  Since opening, the Café has generated increased footfall at the Community Park and with increased visitors to the village there is a knock-on benefit to local retail outlets.

The Café improves facilities contributing to sustainability of Strichen Country Park.  The project is an excellent example of local stakeholders making key choices to develop facilities for wide community benefit. 

To read more about the project click here.


Case Study 3


Project Title:  Countryside Live

Project Theme:  Revitalising Communities      

Priority:  Conservation of the Rural Environment   

Countryside Live is an initiative brought forward by Royal Northern Agricultural Society, in partnership with local rural and land-based organisations.

The project aims to showcase farming, food production, land management, rural crafts and skills to the general public providing an enjoyable and educational day out for all age groups.

The two day event is held on Dunecht Estates, a 2700 acre farming and sporting estate 13 miles west of Aberdeen. 

The project is supported by LEADER, Aberdeenshire Council and a large number of agricultural and rural businesses. 

The event encompasses a wide range of attractions comprising farmers market, cropping, livestock, forestry, sporting and recreational areas, conservation and land management displays.


Photograph courtesy of Agricultural Communications Ltd


Estate activities include arable cropping, livestock production, game birds and environmental management schemes which improve biodiversity with benefits for wildlife, farmland birds and other flora and fauna.

Visitors experience what farmers do to produce quality, farm assured food and actions to protect the environment and maintain an attractive, living countryside.

Over 100 volunteers act as stewards ensuring smooth operation of the day.  A shuttle service is provided to access each demonstration area.


Photograph courtesy of Agricultural Communications Ltd


The second day is targeted at secondary school pupils focusing on rural industries. 

Technical experts are on hand advising on employment opportunities in the rural sector through livestock and arable farming, agricultural research, estate management and quarrying.

The first day proves highly popular with 4000 attendees enjoying the informative event. 

To read more about the project click here.