£1.4 million for rural economy in parts of Mid and East Devon and Somerset

The rural economy in parts of Mid and East Devon, and Somerset, will be bolstered with £1.4 million of funding support, Devon County Council has announced.

The County Council is overseeing two EU funded LEADER grants programmes, which aims to create jobs and help to develop rural businesses.

The Council is working in close partnership with a number of organisations to deliver a successful funding programme.  The Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), Local Authorities and other delivery partners will be providing support to businesses and organisations who are looking to access the funding.

A panel, made up of private and community sector representatives, known as The Local Action Group, will award grants locally to farmers, growers, foresters, other local rural businesses and rural community organisations. It will support projects that create opportunities to improve the local economy in terms of jobs and growth, as well as improving the quality of life in the area.

The Making it Local Action Group serves parts of Mid and East Devon and Somerset, covering parishes of the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs and surrounding gateway market towns. This will oversee the delivery of more than £1.4 million of funding over the next three years.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Economy and Growth, said: “Supporting the growth and development of a diverse rural economy is a key priority for the County Council, and LEADER funding will offer a genuine boost for local communities. Partnership working between local organisations is vital to this scheme to help secure this money for rural businesses and communities in Devon.”

Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council and Chair of the Making it Local Action Group, said: “We have supported the delivery of LEADER funding to the communities within the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONB areas for a number of years already. This latest round of LEADER funding gives us the opportunity to really focus on the small businesses and diverse communities that contribute so much to our vibrant economy through the Making it Local area. Funding will support business growth and job creation as well as improvements to local services and facilities within our communities”.

The LEADER grants programme has six priorities, which are 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 website at www.makingitlocal.org