Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2015 and beyond.

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDP) is part of the Common Agricultural Policy, and is jointly-funded by the EU and the Government. A commitment to spend £3.5bn over the seven years from 2014 – 2020 has already been announced. A range of schemes will support three key areas: managing the environment; increasing farming and forestry productivity; growing the rural economy.

RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME FOR ENGLAND

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDP) is part of the Common Agricultural Policy, and is jointly-funded by the EU and the Government.   A commitment to spend £3.5bn over the seven years from 2014 – 2020 has already been announced.  A range of schemes will support three key areas:

  • Managing the environment
  • Increasing farming and forestry productivity
  • Growing the rural economy.

The first of those will be taken care of by the new Countryside Stewardship which will account for £3.1bn of the RDP funding. It replaces the existing Environmental Stewardship and English Woodland Grant schemes.

That leaves a considerable pot of money available for the second and third areas, which will be funded through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). Final guidance on exactly what they entail and how to apply for funds is still awaited and is expected within the next few months.


PRODUCTIVITY
We do know that funds to increase farming and forestry productivity amount to £140m over the seven-year life of the programme. This area has several aims, including:

  • Innovation through the use of new technology and research
  • Improving skills and training
  • Greater co-operation between farmers and others, in the land- based sectors
  • Supporting projects that benefit the environment.

It will include a new scheme, the Farming and Forestry Production Scheme (FFPS), which will replace the Farm and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS).  It is likely to be similar, consisting of small-scale grants targeted at quite specific areas that can generally deliver very strong returns to the business employing them. Under FFIS 40% grants in lowland areas and 50% in upland areas to a maximum of £35,000 were available.

Precision farming guidance systems accounted for the majority of FFIS applications made by Samuel & Son on behalf of local rural businesses, these technologies can and have had significant environmental benefits, whilst improving the economic viability of these rural businesses.

 

GROWTH
Schemes to help grow the rural economy will be available through Local Enterprise Partnerships, which will target £177m at rural priorities such as:

  • Development of business knowledge and skills
  • Supporting small or micro-businesses
  • Investing in broadband and renewable energy
  • Promoting rural tourism.

Local Action Groups will have a further £140m to spend, through the LEADER approach, which will be available to farmers, foresters, other local businesses and rural communities.

These significant pots of money represent a real opportunity and are available to all rural businesses. Themes will be much wider than the FFPS and not necessarily exclusively agriculturally related. LEP and LAGs are currently bidding for funds and shaping what projects they will support.

Good advice will be important to identify which scheme is most relevant to ensure efforts are focussed in the right area. Funding could be considered for a variety of projects, whether for capital items or for revenue support. Rural business needs to think laterally about what items and projects might be eligible and whether they can meet the criteria.

Anyone that has a project in mind is advised to prepare in good time. Grants are run on a competitive basis and applicants making the stronger cases are likely to improve their chances of securing funds.

If you would like to register with us to receive updates as to available grants and funding in 2015 and beyond or to discuss your projects and funding opportunities, please contact William Fraser on 01435 864020.