The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development aims to improve the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, the environment, and the countryside, and the quality of life and management of economic activity in rural areas.

For those stakeholders who may have a suitable project it is essential that the LEP ESIF strategy is reviewed to identify whether potential project ideas have a strong strategic fit

Calls for projects are announced on our latest news pages as well as on this page.

DEFRA announced £200m of new activity under the Rural Development Programme socio-economic schemes.  This includes:

  • £30m to improve rural broadband - grants available will encourage growth by helping provide broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or faster where this is not available or planned. It will supplement existing Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport investment in rural broadband.
  • £45m to help rural businesses grow and invest in new equipment.  Rural businesses, including those engaged in tourism and food production, can apply for funding to invest in their company, helping them to expand, diversify, and invest in new technology.
  • £120m for projects that improve farm productivity.  This money will help farmers, foresters and landowners manage their land more effectively. Funding will be available for a wide range of purposes, including woodland management equipment, creating on-farm reservoirs and using water more efficiently.

The first two schemes to launch are Countryside Productivity Water Resource Management grants and Improving Forestry Productivity grants.

The Water Resource Management grants are to improve farm and horticultural productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation, and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by the construction of on-farm reservoirs. The Forestry grants are to improve forestry productivity through felling, extraction and adding value by primary processing of timber products.

DEFRA rural services helpline 03000 200 301 (choose the Rural Development option)   Search for ‘RDPE Countryside Productivity’ on

Further information, including handbooks, application forms and guidance is available here

Contact Susannah Lewis on on 01522 550638