VICTORIA Benn, membership and events officer for Yorkshire Dales environmental campaigning charity, Friends of the Dales, based in Gargrave, explains how businesses, individual and community groups can access grants for sustainable development.


IT’S the little things we take for granted as residents and visitors in the Yorkshire Dales, such as accessible, functioning public loos, decent broadband, and a common sense approach to using our abundant natural resources for renewable energy production.

Yet, such everyday services, never mind other, more ambitious sustainability projects such as flood prevention and habitat regeneration, come at a cost – usually a four figure one.

Good news then that businesses, individuals and community groups can access the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, which has been supporting and promoting more sustainable ways of living in, working in and visiting the national park for the last 20 years.

As part of its autumn and winter events programme, Friends of the Dales is further raising awareness of the fund, through its monthly online talk on December 6.

The talk – which is free for everyone to sign up for – was initially directed at our community supporter network of businesses and ‘not for profits’ which support our work in the Dales. However, it made sense to throw it open to all our members, supporters and the wider community as there is such a fantastic legacy of conservation, heritage and community projects which the Fund has kick started over the years. Booking a place and tuning in could be the first step in realising a sustainable ambition for your village, community or business.

Andrea Burden, sustainable development officer for the national park who will talk about the scheme says: “I am pleased to be invited to take part in the Friends of the Dales Autumn/Winter events programme.

"It will be a great opportunity to explain a bit more about the authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, how it operates, what types of projects we are looking for, and how you can apply.”

Also taking part is Edward Sexton of Clapham based Glencroft who will reveal how the fund helped initiate his company’s now successful ‘farm to yarn’ project – Clapdale Wool in 2021, which bucks the norm by buying its fleeces from farms within a 10-mile radius before overseeing the whole process of transforming them into Yorkshire-made hand-knit yarn.

He says: “My dad started Glencroft in 1987 because he felt disillusioned with the way lots of textile manufacturing was moving abroad. Since then we’ve worked really hard to get the majority of our products made in the UK, something which is ever more challenging. Clapdale has been a way of turning back the clock and making that happen.”

Instead of just paying farmers the usual 35p per Kg paid by British Wool for coarser fleeces like Dalesbred – a net loss after shearing and transporting the fleeces to the Bradford based Wool Marketing Board, Edward tops this up to £1 per Kg.

Most importantly though, the farmers who have joined the Clapdale Wool project earn a share of 10 per cent of the profits from the sales of the finished woollen clothing products. It’s a cycle of value that starts and ends in the Yorkshire Dales.

The whole project has ‘doing the right thing’ at its core and Edward and the team are discovering that there is a ready market of people who care enough about quality, carbon footprint and traceability to make it a success.

“It’s really important for us to support our local economy,” says Edward. “And we can’t do that unless we’re supporting our local suppliers. If the farms and the sheep weren’t here, there wouldn’t be as many tourists, so all the businesses in the area are interlinked and we’re part of that cycle.

“The grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park took a bit of the pressure off us. We are now moving into our third year of the project and have expanded from working with two to seven local farms. We're also producing woven blankets and cloth in our local mill, so you may be able to wear a suit of traceable Yorkshire Dalesbred wool in a few months time.”

To find out more about becoming a Friends of the Dales Community Supporter or to book for its Funding for Sustainable Business and Community Projects in the Dales online talk on Wednesday December 6 at 5pm visit: