New Rural Grant Opportunity launched

29th February 2012

The RDPE have announced this week the launch of the new Rural Economy Grant (REG). With funding available for projects from £25,000 up to circa £1 million, this announcement will be welcome news for many rural businesses in the North East.

This £60 million Rural Economy Grant has been established in response to the findings of Defra’s Rural Economy Growth Review, which identified that large grants (of £25,000 up to circa £1 million) are needed in key business sectors to unlock significant rural economic growth potential. This will benefit a number of clients in the North East as it targets exactly where businesses are looking to develop and invest. I am often contacted when projects are in the early stages as to whether there is grant funding available. It is a real benefit to a number of projects that the opportunity to apply is now open.

The inclusion of tourism projects will be of particular interest which could include development of high quality accommodation provision (4 minimum) and upgrades where these bring clearly defined wider benefits to the local economy. Supporting tourism activities linked to quality local food, culture, heritage and rural crafts/assets could also benefit as well as supporting the development of niche products and services. From an agricultural angle this grant could help towards significant investments made to your business for upgrading your handling facilities and improving your livestock buildings through to rain water harvesting facilities and nutrient management.

The application process has two stages. Firstly projects will need to submit an outline application by 30th April 2012, which will assess whether your project fits within one of the seven themes. These themes are:

  • Farm Competiveness; Nutrient Management, Animal Health & Welfare and Water Resource Management;
  • Tourism;
  • Forestry;
  • Agri-Food;
  • Micro Enterprise Support (targeted at high growth/ high value sectors in Rural Growth Network areas only).

Having been involved in many grant applications I am only too aware how crucial the initial stage is. This stage allows you to provide an outline of your project, detailing how you anticipate it will fit with the overall aims of the appropriate theme, the need and demand for the investment, and benefits of your project. Your application will then be assessed as to whether your project may proceed to the full application stage.

We’ve been able to help many farmers and rural businesses in the past and are available to talk through your projects. We know that the RDPE are looking for projects that “enable a significant ‘game-changing’, transformational performance in farm, forestry, tourism, agri-food and micro businesses in rural areas in England”.

Don’t forget that the REG application process is competitive and those projects offering the greatest return on grant investment will be more likely to be successful.

REG applications in Uplands (SDA) or Rural Growth Network areas will be prioritised for selection through the outline appraisal and selection process. The REG complements the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS), which provides small grants support (between £2,500 and £25,000) to farming, horticulture and forestry businesses. We submitted a number of applications during the first round, and are ready for when this grant opens again for applications in April.

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