Catchment Sensitive Farming
From Autumn 2014 to Spring 2015, RDS have been delivering a Farm Advice project on behalf of the Chilterns Conservation Board and the Environment Agency. The overall aim of the project is to maintain and improve soil and water quality through more sustainable land management practices in the Chilterns. On behalf of Natural England we also delivered group events within priority catchments to help farmers mitigate against diffuse water pollution from agriculture.
RDS is an approved supplier of Natural England's Farm Advice Framework (2015-2020). Between 2010 and 2014, RDS provided one-to-one training and support to 720 farmers and landowners to assist in their uptake and implementation of agri-environment options. We also managed nine on-farm events on option selection for optimising habitat for farmland birds and pollinators. These activities were delivered under Natural England's Farm Advice, Training and Information Programme (FATI).
Rural Economy Grants
During 2014, RDS delivered a six-month contract on behalf of Wilshire Council and Defra where we offered support to businesses to ensure that their applications for rural economy grants were complete and accurate. This piloted an innovative and successful approach to delivery of funding that allowed for expansion and growth of businesses in the rural sector.
Ex ante (final) Evaluation of LEADER
In 2013, RDS undertook the final evaluation of Southern Oxfordshire's LEADER programme. This measured the socio-economic impact of the programme, captured the lessons learnt, identified best practice and provided recommendations for future programme delivery.
RDPE Project Appraisals
In 2010, RDS was contracted to the South East of England Development Agency to undertake project appraisals under RDPE, providing in depth financial analysis and business appraisals of the applications submitted under Axes 1 and 3. This involved evaluating whether the project should be supported in the context of the grant aims to diversify and strengthen the rural economy. RDS has also undertaken several hundred LEADER appraisals.
Tourism and Recreation
In 2010, RDS undertook a management and budgetary review of Arrow Valley Countryside Centre on behalf of Redditch Borough Council. We analysed and assessed different options that allowed cost savings and improved income streams expected to secure the long term future of a well-used public facility in an economic climate where there was pressure on the council's budget.