One of the first tranches of funding to be made available through the new programme of EU Rural Development funds will offer Cornish rural businesses and communities an exciting opportunity to develop and grow.

£7.3 million is available from the Rural Development Programme for England via its LEADER delivery framework and will be delivered across Cornwall through four Local Action Groups (LAGs).  These groups comprise of private, public and voluntary sector representatives in the four LAG areas of West Cornwall, Coast 2 Coast, Atlantic & Moor and South & East Cornwall.

The main priorities for the locally led funding are to support: increased farm productivity, farm diversification, micro and small enterprise development, rural tourism, provision of rural services, cultural and heritage activity, and increased forestry productivity.

The funding is weighted to support micro and small business enterprises including start-ups.

Grants can support a wide range of activities but each LAG has identified evidenced based priorities for support in their area.  These priorities are set out in each area’s Local Development Strategy and accordingly, in response to local evidence of need, not all activity can be supported.  Applications will be assessed on a case by case basis by the relevant Local Action Group.

Depending on the project, each group will normally offer grants of between £2,500 and £35,000 to fund up to 50% of project costs.  In exceptional cases larger grants can be offered and, where deemed appropriate by the Local Action Group, not-for-private-profit organisations may be able to access higher levels of grant support.  Projects must deliver activity that results in business/community development and growth including creation of jobs, increased efficiency and benefits to the wider rural economy.

The application process is in 2 stages comprising of an Outline Application which, if eligible, will be followed by a more detailed full application.

Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture said “This European funding can reach into our communities to  assist micro businesses and small enterprise development. The money will make a real difference across Cornwall and I urge people to get involved and see how this money can help their business grow.”

Each Local Action Group has a Project Coordinator on the ground to assist applicants.

The Local Action Groups has now officially launched the programme and have open their doors to applications.

Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to tap into EU funding at grassroots level and help deliver locally-led growth in rural areas. The Local Action Groups are there to help businesses and communities make the most of this investment so please get in touch with them with your ideas.”

The LEADER Local Action programme in Cornwall will be managed on behalf of the LAGs by the Cornwall Development Company (CDC) and is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and DEFRA with additional support being provided by Cornwall Council.

David Rodda, Rural Delivery Manager for CDC stated “We have been working with the LAGs to develop their proposals since DEFRA announced the opportunity presented by LEADER funding.  We are excited about entering into the delivery phase and look forward to supporting the LAGs to achieve the aspirations outlined in their strategies.”

To find out if your project is eligible for funding, visit www.LocalActionCornwall.co.uk.