£2.4 m grant for rural businesses

PUBLISHED: 16:07 12 August 2008 | UPDATED: 22:09 15 June 2010

RURAL businesses across the area could benefit from a £2.4 million grant following a joint bid for the money. The Blackdown Hills and East Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty put together the bid for the money, which will come from Defra and the Eur

RURAL businesses across the area could benefit from a £2.4 million grant following a joint bid for the money.The Blackdown Hills and East Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty put together the bid for the money, which will come from Defra and the European Union.The money is managed through the Regional Development Agency and will be used to fund economic, creative and social activity in the area. It will help to stimulate investment from a wide range of other sources across both AONBs and their surrounding market towns in Devon and Somerset between 2008 and 2013.Jenny Archard, of the Blackdown Hills AONB, who put the bid together, said: "This area has missed out on European funding before so we combined with East Devon to enable our fantastic rural area to maximise its opportunities."The money will be used to help producers across the area work together, to give them a bigger presence and to help them work effectively together."She said the bid worked under the banner of Making it Local, which has three aims - improving business performance and employment, connecting communities and developing sustainable use of local resources.She said: "It will be a grant scheme and 80 projects came forward during the bid process so we will be supporting some of them."She also said they hoped to get more young people involved in the project.Chris Woodruff, East Devon AONB manager, said: "We were one of 15 bids to benefit, four of which came from Devon."We now need to produce a detailed development plan and appoint a programme manager and support staff."There will also be a local action group which will have representatives from local businesses and community organisations."Councillor Paul Diviani, who is the interim chairman of the action group, said: "It is fantastic news we have succeeded with our bid for project funding for the next five years."Making it Local is our initiative for using our outstanding natural resources in an environmentally sensitive way for the benefit of everyone.The new programme is due to get underway in October this year and it is anticipated the grant scheme will be available in 2009.

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