Tuesday, 24 February 2015 10:08

More details of £3.5bn rural programme

Written by  Ruralcity Media
More details of £3.5bn rural programme

MORE details have emerged of new rural development schemes worth £3.5bn to the English countryside.

The new Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) was formally agreed by the European Commission last month.

Under the programme, the government will be investing at least £3.5bn in rural development schemes until 2020, confirms the latest Defra update.

About £2.1bn will be spent on existing environmental schemes. The remainder of the money will be spent through the new RDPE, which is made up of four elements:

• Countryside Stewardship
• Countryside Productivity
• Growth Programme
• LEADER

About £900m on will be spent on Countryside Stewardship, which will help rural businesses improve the countryside environment.

Guidance for Countryside Productivity will be published on the government's GOV.UK website during March, said the Defra update on Monday (23 February).

Potential applicants will ask for ideas for projects which the scheme could support. The full application process for grant funding will open later in 2015.

Under the Growth Programme, £177 million will go to people and business to help them support their local rural economy.

Grants will be available for starting up a business, developing a business, tourism, renewable heat and energy projects.

From 2016, there will also be grants for broadband investments. These will be linked to Local Broadband Plans developed by local authorities.

Through the LEADER element of the RDPE 2014–2020, £138m will be available to local businesses, farmers, foresters, land managers and communities.

Funding is allocated to local action groups (LAGs) in order to create jobs and growth in rural areas, mainly via small grants.

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