Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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New drive for rural growth – business and broadband grant applications open

Thousands of farms and rural businesses have a second chance to boost their business prospects with millions of pounds in grant support, Farming Minister Jim Paice announced yesterday.

Applications will be invited for grants of up to £25,000 to enable businesses to buy new machinery and develop green projects, while whole communities in the remotest areas could get superfast broadband to help transform their businesses and the wider community.

The grants total £40 million and mark the opening of the second round of the Rural Community Broadband Fund and the publication of guidance to a second wave of applicants to the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme.

Lord Taylor was in Lincolnshire yesterday, to visit some of the projects that have already benefitted from grant support, on the first in a series of summer Rural Roadshows to listen to the priorities, issues and concerns of rural communities.

Farming Minister, Jim Paice said:

“This is good news for rural communities, as many of the farms and businesses that missed out the first time around will get another chance to apply for grants of up to £25,000, which will make a major difference to how they run their business.

“We’re already hearing about the great benefits that our investment has brought to rural businesses and farms.  Today, we’re transforming the business prospects of many more with new opportunities to get superfast broadband and boost their profits with new technology.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:

“Superfast broadband has the potential to transform our most remote communities by opening up a world of new opportunities.

“The fund will back those communities working to help themselves by bringing broadband to their homes and helping businesses develop and grow.”

Defra’s £20 million Rural Community Broadband Fund is open today for applications from the most remote communities.  It complements the Government’s £530 million Broadband Delivery UK programme to provide superfast broadband to 90 percent of every county. The Rural Community Broadband Fund allows for communities in the remaining ten percent to develop projects for a superfast broadband connection.

The Fund, along with and the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme are part of the Government’s £165 million package of initiatives to grow the rural economy announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review in November 2011.

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme will fund new profit-boosting green schemes that:

  • save energy and reduce carbon emissions;
  • reduce dependence on artificial fertilizers through better use of manures;
  • improve soil quality;
  • improve animal health and welfare;
  • save and recycle water; and
  • promote woodland management by processing timber more efficiently.

Grants will cover a maximum of half of the total cost of projects in uplands areas and at most 40% of the total cost of projects in non uplands areas.


The £20 million Forestry and Farming Improvement Scheme is part of Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England. 

The Rural Development Programme for England improves competitiveness in the agriculture and forestry sector, safeguarding and enhancing the rural environment and fostering competitive, sustainable rural businesses and thriving rural communities. 

The £20 million Rural Community Broadband Fund is jointly funded by Defra and Broadband Delivery UK and is being delivered through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). It enables the funding of superfast broadband projects in the most hard to reach areas in England.

More information about the Fund and details on how to apply can be found on Defra’s RDPE Network webpage

Applications for the Rural Community Broadband Fund open today and close on July 6 2012. The first round opened in November.

Information for applicants to the Forestry and Farming Improvement Scheme are published today; the scheme will go live on May 22 and close on July 17. Details of how to apply are available from May 10. The first round opened in November.