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£30m boost for rural businesses

PUBLISHED: 09:48 17 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:02 05 July 2010

More than £30m has been allocated to rural businesses by the East of England Development Agency through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

More than £30m has been allocated to rural businesses by the East of England Development Agency through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

“In its first year, the programme has been terrifically successful,” said Cindy Winn, Eeda's rural development manager.

“Eeda will have supported more than 700 rural businesses and committed funds through these RDPE projects to create or safeguard more than 500 jobs and benefit the natural environment, and this is something we aim to build on over the next few years.”

Funding of more than £21m has been allocated to local action groups across the region over the next five years.

The Norfolk coast and Broads local action group hopes to reduce the pressure of tourism on areas where it has become detrimental to the local environment and support projects which stimulate tourism in as-yet unappreciated spots.

The Waveney Valley local action group covers an area from the coast near Yarmouth and Lowestoft to beyond Diss. The aim is to create a Waveney Valley identity that will promote the area as a sustainable and vibrant destination for people to visit. It is citing the Loire Valley region of France as an area with a strong identity both domestically and overseas, and which is synonymous with a pleasant and attractive place to live and visit.

The Brecks local action group contains the largest expanse of open natural green space in the east of England. The group seeks to capitalise on this through encouraging “green” tourism.

Meanwhile, Ms Winn said Eeda was keen to support projects that made the best use of water, and the agency was inviting expressions of interests from applicants seeking funding for collaborative reservoir projects.

“Funding these types of collaborative reservoirs will boost business opportunities for vegetable growers, packers, processers and distributors by maintaining a regular water supply to crops,” she said.

“Many growers rely on irrigation during the summer but water abstraction licences have their drawbacks.

“By storing water during the wetter months, growers can benefit from a guaranteed water supply and better quality produce without damaging the environment.

“Eeda is currently inviting expressions of interest for RDPE funding of collaborative high-flow storage reservoirs for agriculture and horticulture.”

Natural England and the Forestry Commission are also involved with the RDPE.

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