Last chance for farms and rural firms to bid for £350,000 of EU grant cash
Fen Farm Dairy
Rural businesses, farmers and community groups across Norfolk and north Suffolk have one last chance to apply for a share of £350,000 of European grant funding.
The LEADER programme, managed by Norfolk County Council, is due to end soon, giving applicants a short window to apply for the final pot of money.
So far, nearly £8m has been committed to new projects across the region with the aim of creating new jobs, bringing more tourists to the area, supporting farm and forestry productivity, encouraging culture and heritage activity, providing rural services and growing the rural economy.
One firm to benefit was Fen Farm Dairy, a rural business specialising in producing raw milk cheese products, which was awarded £152,000 from the Waveney Valley Local Action Group (LAG) to develop a new cheese production facility at its 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 until 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.”
Meanwhile Crop Systems, which specialises in the design and installation of potato stores and systems, was awarded £57,000 from the Wensum and Coast LAG to build a new purpose-built office block in Whimpwell Green, near Happisbugh.
Managing director Ray Andrews 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.”
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Other approved projects include:
• Brecks LAG: Bedingfield Arms, Swaffham – building a single storey extension including a larger and more energy-efficient commercial kitchen.
• Broads LAG: The Nest, Horsford – refurbishment of a disused clubhouse for this community sports facility.
• West Norfolk LAG: Facilitate IT, Wereham – building an internet-based system to allow businesses to easily manage their staff training records.
Pat Holtom, chairman 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.”
• There is a two-stage application process, with an expression of interest required by April 16 and, if the project is eligible, a full application will need to be submitted by May 7. For more details, see the Norfolk LAGs website.