New EU Grants for rural businesses in Test Valley

The following information comes from Test Valley Borough Council…

 

New EU fund to support rural business in Test Valley

European Union LEADER Grant Funding of has been allocated to support the development

of small businesses and not-for-profit groups in the rural Test Valley and surrounding areas

over the next 5 years. The Grant Fund is administered by three Local Action Groups (LAG)

working in partnership with Test Valley Borough Council and other local authorities.

Rural-based businesses and not-for-profit organisations in LEADER LAG areas will be able

to apply for a share of the million pound funds from June 2015. Successful applicants could

receive grants ranging up to £50,000, but recipients will be required to provide their own

‘match funding’, the proportion of which depends on the type of project. Precise rules will

vary between the three areas. The funding will support a wide range of investments to help

farming and forestry businesses to expand, improve their productivity or diversify as well as

grants to enable small enterprises in rural areas to start-up and grow. There will also be

support for projects which provide services to the rural communities.

LEADER funds are distributed via Defra (Department for Environment, Food, and Rural

Affairs) directly to the Local Action Groups, whose role is to assess grant applications and

ensure that the money will be used to meet agreed local needs and priorities. Membership of

the LAG is drawn from a wide range of local organisations representing the business and

farming communities, statutory bodies and the voluntary sector.

In the last programme, which wasn’t available in all parts of Test Valley, LEADER funded a

wide variety of rural businesses, farmers, foresters and smaller enterprises. For example, it

funded the conversion of farm buildings into a B&B; modernised a farm shop; funded the

expansion of a micro-brewery; paid for new forestry equipment for a forestry contractor;

funded a new café; assisted a cheese producer to pasteurise their own milk; paid for wood

processing equipment, funded capital building and equipment for several tourism attractions

and many more projects which saw businesses grow successfully.

In the north of the Borough, Bourne Valley ward will continue to be included in the North

Wessex Downs LEADER area; southern Test Valley (up as far as Romsey) will now be

covered by New Forest LEADER, leaving the majority of the borough to fall within the new

Loddon Test Valley LEADER Programme. Andover and Romsey are both excluded from

LEADER funding due to its focus on rural areas.

If you would like to discuss your project idea please contact:

Bourne Valley – dawn.hamblin@wiltshire.gov.uk

Southern Test Valley – sally.igra@NFDG.gov.uk and

Rest of Test Valley contact emily.preston@hants.gov.uk