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News - 17 February 2015

England's Rural Development Programme approved

ENGLAND’s £3 billion Rural Development Programme (RDP) has been approved by the European Commission, paving the way for expected announcements by Defra Ministers of at least two major schemes by the end of this month.

Almost one third of the funding will be available under the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which is intended to encourage biodiversity and will be open for applications in July 2015.

Schemes to encourage farming and forestry productivity will also be established and support will be provided via the LEADER network, which will focus on the development of tourism, broadband infrastructure and renewable energy.

Defra Ministers are expected to unveil more details of RDPE schemes at next week’s NFU conference, with a further announcements expected shortly afterwards.

Defra Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “The new England Rural Development Programme will help us protect our countryside, grow the rural economy and encourage the wildlife and rich natural habitats we all treasure.”

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “I am optimistic that the investment provided through the English RDP will not only help to stimulate growth and jobs in rural areas, but also encourage agri-environment schemes and other measures that will address challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss.”

The RDP will comprise of the following

  • 87% on the environment (over £3bn)
  • 13% on growth related activity
  • 5% through the EU Growth Programme (£177m)
  • 4% on Leader (£140m)
  • 4% on farming/forestry competitiveness (£140m)

Of the £140m total for LEADER, the six priorities will receive the following percentage of the total

  • Support for increasing farm productivity (20%);
  •  Support for micro and small enterprises and farm diversification (40%);
  •  Support for rural tourism (20%);
  •  Provision of rural services (5%);
  •  Support for cultural and heritage activity (5%); and
  •  Support for increasing forestry productivity (10%).

Defra will be working with both existing LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs) and prospective groups this year to get all LAGs in place for 01 January 2015.

For those who are looking for a more personal approach on a range of individual and business related issues, contact us at ABDS.

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