In addition to the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) programme, Member States also receive an allocation from the European budget on Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). EU agriculture and rural funding supports a number of priorities including better management of natural resources, the adoption of new farming practices and the growth and the economy of rural areas.
England CAP allocation is around €4.4bn and is delivered through the Rural Development Programme for England for 2014-2020 (RDPE).
The majority of the allocation in England is delivered through Natural England and the Forestry Commission through the Countryside Stewardships (€3.8bn). The rest is split between:
- The Countryside Productivity Scheme - aimed at farmers (€176m)
- LEADER - through approved geographical schemes (€172m)
- The Growth Programme – through allocations to LEPs (€221m)
What this means to GM?
Local Authorities within Greater Manchester are involved in three larger LEADER Schemes. Through LEADER, money from the programme is given to Local Action Groups (LAGs) so that they can develop and deliver actions addressing their local rural priorities in an innovative, locally specific and participative way. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) manages the LEADER scheme nationally and makes the payments to successful applicants. A LAG is made up of local public, private and civil society representatives.
The LEADER Programmes running in GM:
- Lancashire Pennine Moors LEADER (€1.7m for the whole area) - rural areas of Bolton, Bury, Wigan and Rochdale.
- South Pennines LEADER (£1.2m for the whole area) – rural areas of Oldham and Rochdale.
- Cheshire LEADER (€3m for the whole area) - Trafford (Dunham Massey area).
All LEADER programmes have open calls (or will launch calls) for grants to support:
- farm productivity – in particular businesses that want to invest in innovative practices and new technologies to help them become more sustainable and productive
- rural micro and small businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification - for both new and existing businesses and all types of businesses, including social enterprises
- rural tourism
- rural services
- cultural and heritage activity
- forestry productivity
Grants are typically limited to a maximum of 40% of the project’s total eligible costs. The minimum and maximum grant varies from Programme to Programme. The minimum grant for the Cheshire LEADER is £2,000, and for the Lancashire Pennie Moors and South Pennies LEADERs is £6,000. The maximum also varies depending on the grant.
Lancashire Pennines Moor next deadline for outlines applications is 24 June for the Enterprise and Farming grants. Calls for the other priorities will be launched later in the year, however potential applicants with ideas falling within the other priorities are also encouraged to get in touch with the LEADER team and submit an expression of interest.
South Pennines LEADER next deadlines are 8 June and 1 September with the main focus being local distinctiveness, farming and forestry, and community assess.
The Cheshire LEADER has an open call, with no deadlines, for outline applications.
Other Rural Funds
In addition to LEADER, Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership has been given a notional allocation of €524,037 EU rural Growth Programme funding to be spent within the current programming period. The funding will complement the delivery of the existing ESF and ERDF programmes.
The Countryside Productivity scheme has a number of grants aimed at farmers, woodland owners and forestry contractors, however none of those grants are currently open. There is however an open call at the moment for linking research with farming or forestry practices through the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-Agri) with a number of cut off dates a year. EIP-Agri will run until September 2017.
How to know which areas are rural?
Postcode eligibility for rural and LEADER areas can be checked on the Magic website. Follow the following instructions:
- Click on get started.
- Then on Table of contents click on Admin geographies and tick other Admin boundaries
- Untick all boxes except the blue one
- Go to Map search (top white box) and choose County, Place or Postcode and put the postcode in
- You will then be presented with a small blue box on a map, if you click on 'i' at the top of the screen and hover over the blue box it will tell you if it is located within a LAG area.