A grant scheme to support rural businesses in Mid and East Devon is being expanded to support more applications from the farming community.
The LEADER REAL (Rural Enterprise and Local Livelihoods) Devon programme, which is being overseen by Devon County Council, is providing £1.2 million to boost the rural economy and generate new jobs. So far, £400,000 has been allocated in support of 17 businesses – and more applications are being sought.
In particular, the eligibility of items for farmers now encompasses more capital equipment.
Applications for grants could include equipment and machinery to modernise or mechanise production and increase productivity, to improve the efficiency of the use of energy, water, fertiliser, animal feed and other products, or to reduce impacts on soils, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Improvements could also be made to livestock housing to improve animal welfare or energy efficiency, or equipment and machinery to improve animal handling above ‘standard equipment’.
Funding from the EU-backed initiative is available to farmers, growers, foresters, other local rural businesses and rural community organisations. However, funding needs to be allocated by March 2019.
Devon County Council is the accountable body for two of the five Local Action Groups across Devon – Making it Local, and REAL Devon. It is working with key partners on the programme, including Mid Devon, East Devon, and South Somerset District Councils and Taunton Deane Borough Council.
Among local businesses to have received LEADER REAL Devon funding are E&J Greed Farm Partnership, based in Thorverton, who were awarded funding for a Zero Tillage Drill; Wellhayes Vineyard, in Clayhanger, near Tiverton, were awarded funding for expansion of their winery, including equipment; and Planet Play SW Ltd, a children’s soft play centre and café in Crediton.
Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “We’ve seen that the LEADER funding is making a real difference in helping local people in rural areas to either start up a new business or to help existing firms to grow. Devon’s rural communities play a vital role in our local economy and this scheme can help create more jobs in this part of the county.”
Councillor Richard Chesterton, Mid Devon District Council’s Deputy Leader and Chair of the REAL Devon Local Action Group, said: “Our people and communities are the biggest asset to the area and there is huge untapped potential here. This funding is an opportunity for rural businesses and entrepreneurs to expand their business, support new ways of doing things or start a new venture. I would encourage people to look into the scheme to see if it can help their business.”
The REAL Devon Local Action Group covers the majority of Mid Devon and seven East Devon parishes (Brampford Speke, Huxham, Nether Exe, Poltimore, Rewe, Stoke Canon and Upton Pyne).
The LEADER grants programme aims to:
• increase farm productivity;
• support micro and small businesses and farm diversification;
• boost rural tourism;
• provide rural services;
• provide cultural and heritage activities; and
• increase forestry productivity.
The scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) which is run by DEFRA and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
To find out more about the funding programme visit the Local Action Group website at www.REALDevon.org
PHOTO- Wellhayes Vineyard
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