Substantial Grant Funding Available
Carter Jonas has the expertise to offer advice to anyone considering an application for grant funding for rural land or business enterprises. Our experts can help navigate the plethora of rules and legislation involved.
Farmers, land owners and rural businesses should now all be taking steps to establish how they can best take advantage of the £3.9bn budget set aside for grant funding during the next five years.
Following Lord Haskin’s review and DEFRA’s Rural Strategy (2004) the grant regime in England and Wales has dramatically changed and on 7 December 2007 the EU approved the Rural Development Programme for England 2007 – 2013, defining the next phase of rural grant funding.
Overall responsibility for delivering the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE) rests with DEFRA and its agencies. In October 2006, Natural England and the Forestry Commission took over responsibility for grants that provide environmental benefit and enhance the countryside (known as Axis 2 Schemes) and include agri-environmental, hill farming and woodland and forestry grants.
Axis 1 and 3 of the RDPE, deliver the socio-economic project based schemes and are now the responsibility of the Rural Development Agencies (RDAs) of which there are 9 countrywide:
We believe there are three key schemes likely to be of interest to our clients and professional colleagues:
The Modernisation of Agricultural Holdings
These projects could include the development of small-scale on-farm renewable energy technologies, such as bio-gas and anaerobic digestion, or the installation of hydro or wind turbines for power generation; alternative agriculture, which might include the diversification into non-food markets as well as many others.
Agri-Environmental and Woodland and Forestry Management
In this area the Government has set aside £3.3bn of the total budget for agri-environment and land management schemes. These include Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) and Higher Level Stewardship (HLS). For those with farm and estate woods the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) will be of interest, there are many tiers to this scheme enabling planning, management, improvement, regeneration and creation of woodlands.
Diversification into Non-Agricultural Activities and the Creation and Development of Micro-Enterprises
Diversification continues to be a favoured objective. Under the new regime, eligible projects are likely to be similar to that of the Modernising of Agricultural Holdings tier.
In all cases, applications will need to be carefully structured to ensure that projects deliver additionality and do not displace other similar business or enterprises. It is important that projects be seen to deliver public benefit beyond the farm gate, such as public access on the farm or employment. A definitive list of diversification activities cannot be provided but it is thought that support would be provided to assist with capital investment, start-up revenue costs, market research, feasibility studies, product development, branding and similar support to new businesses which wish to create new enterprises in the retailing, manufacturing or service industries, including self-made products, recreation, equestrian and creative industries as well as environmental services and renewable energy schemes.
The Rural Division at Carter Jonas has the expertise to offer advice and guidance to all those considering an application for grant funding. There is a huge pot of funds to target, a plethora of rules and legislation must be navigated and all applications will need to be carefully collated to ensure that the particular objectives of each grant scheme is met.
Guy Streeter, Rural Surveyor, Carter Jonas Kendal