Final call for £350,000 funding for Norfolk and north Suffolk businesses
27 March 2019
More than £350,000 is still available for rural businesses, farmers and community groups to apply for from the European LEADER grant funding programme, an initiative managed by Norfolk County Council.
With the programme coming to an end soon, applicants only have a small window to apply for the final pot of money, which has been made available for new projects due to cost saving efficiencies. The application process is two-stage – an expression of interest (a short application giving an outline of the project) needs to be submitted by 16 April 2019 and, if the project is eligible, a full application will need to be made by 7 May 2019.
To date, nearly £8m of funding has been committed to projects across Norfolk and Suffolk with the aim of: creating new jobs; bringing more tourists to the region; supporting farm and forestry productivity; encouraging culture and heritage activity; providing rural services; and growing the local rural economy.
Crop Systems Ltd, who specialise in the design, construction and installation of solutions to improve potato storage, were recently awarded a grant of £57,000 from the Wensum and Coast Local Action Group (LAG) to build a new purpose-built office block in Whimpwell Green near Happisburgh.
Ray Andrews, managing director of Crop Systems Ltd, said: “With the increase in orders and enquiries the new premises will enable us to centralise our workplace, enable us to remain competitive, expand our customer base and give us room for new research and development projects. We are also very proud to be the winners of the North Norfolk Business Awards 2019 in the Agriculture, Horticulture and Countryside category and we look forward to continuing to support our local businesses and economy in 2019 and beyond.”
Fen Farm Dairy Ltd, a rural business specialising in producing raw milk cheese products, was awarded a grant of £152,000 from the Waveney Valley LAG to develop and build a new cheese production facility at their dairy near Bungay.
Jonny Crickmore, director at Fen Farm Dairy, said: "The LEADER grant was a huge part in making the decision to go ahead with the new facilities. We almost certainly would have postponed the building and then the chance to grow our cheese making business till a later date because of the huge cost involved without the grant.
“Now the project is finished we are concentrating on growing cheese sales throughout the UK and exporting to the USA. We are getting great publicity nationwide which all helps tourism in the local area. The grants have allowed us and many more local businesses to get established and has made a real difference to the area for local employment.”
Other approved projects include:
- Brecks LAG – Bedingfield Arms, Swaffham – building a single storey extension including a new, larger and more energy efficient commercial kitchen
- Broads LAG – The Nest, Horsford - refurbishment of a disused clubhouse for users of The Nest, a large community sports facility
- West Norfolk LAG - Facilitate IT Ltd, Wereham – building an internet-based system to allow businesses of any type and size to easily manage their staff training records
Pat Holtom, Chair of the Waveney Valley LAG (one of five decision-making groups), added: “I am delighted that the LEADER programme has been so successful in delivering small grants to local businesses to enable them to grow and develop. The groups are composed of local people from a wide variety of interests combined with a good working knowledge of the rural area it represents.
"We have been very well supported by Norfolk County Council over the period of the programme, which has contributed a great deal to its success – a very good example of partnership between the public and the private sector.”
To apply for LEADER funding or for more information visit www.norfolklags.co.uk
LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale)
The Local Action Groups (LAGs) deliver this funding under the ‘LEADER’ approach, which means that LAGs enlist the energy and resources of local people and organisations in public, private and third sectors, through forming a partnership. This decentralises the decision and funding powers to the local level presenting a ‘bottom-up’ approach.
The five respective LAG areas comprise:
- The Brecks (including parts of northern Suffolk)
- The Broads
- Wensum and Coast
- Waveney Valley (including parts of northern Suffolk)
- West Norfolk
LEADER ("Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale"), meaning 'Links between the rural economy and development actions'), is a ‘bottom-up’ approach which enlists the energy and resources of local people who come together as an empowered group to develop an area.
This funding is from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) delivered via Defra (http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/rurdev/index_en.htm). In the UK this fund is managed by the Rural Payments Agency and distributed via the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
The overarching aims of the programme are to:
- Contribute towards improving the environment and the quality of life in rural areas
- Strengthen the rural economy by helping micro and small businesses to create and sustain employment within the area
- Improve competitiveness, particularly in the agriculture and forestry sectors
More information can be found at www.norfolklags.co.uk