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Successful Funding Bid Nets 1.6m for West Kent Farmers and Foresters

9 December 2008


Funding Bid for West Kent Farmers and Foresters

Pictured left to right: Chris Cooper, Chairman of the West Kent Leader Action Group, Valerie Carter, Rural Director, SEEDA and Cllr Peter Fleming, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council and Chairman of the West Kent Partnership. Photo: Sally Seal, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.

Representatives from SEEDA and the West Kent Partnership put pen to paper yesterday to formalise a funding agreement to promote sustainable business growth in the local rural economy.

Farmers, rural businesses and communities in West Kent will benefit from £1.6 million in direct funding support in the next five years after SEEDA gave the thumbs up to a funding bid by the West Kent Partnership.

The funding is being made available from the Rural Development Programme England (RDPE) and a Local Action Group (LAG) for West Kent has been established to lead on the implementation of the programme delivered through the ‘Leader approach’, an EU-funded programme.

Valerie Carter, Rural Director at SEEDA,, commented: "The funds will help to develop new enterprises in West Kent, as well as providing major opportunities for businesses and communities to work together to invest in their future.

"Leader is a locally-led approach that will support a range of schemes to create employment opportunities and wealth and sustain jobs in the West Kent Leader area. These include helping to increase the sale value of local produce, encouraging farmers to diversify to produce an additional income stream, and renewable energy projects which will help to reduce businesses' running costs and tackle climate change."

Leader is a new source of funding for rural businesses and communities where funds are put into the hands of Local Action Groups so it can be shared amongst projects that can help address local problems and encourage opportunities. Leader will support a range of schemes, including farm diversification projects and adding value to farming and forestry throughout West Kent.

West Kent Leader has an over arching principle - to promote sustainable business growth within the land based and rural economies in the area. Investment through the West Kent LAG is intended to improve the long term viability of businesses and to reduce their reliance on future support funding. Leader will help add value and ensure and enhance sustainable development.

West Kent Leader’s key objectives are to

  • Improve competitiveness and financial sustainability of West Kent’s farming and forestry
  • Encourage innovation and diversification in West Kent’s land based sector
  • Promote entrepreneurship in rural West Kent
  • Encourage the development of rural tourism-related businesses
  • Address pockets of deprivation and encourage vibrant rural communities
  • Ensure best practice in land management and promote sustainable development

West Kent’s main priority is to maximise spending and support for farmers and foresters and these sectors will receive 75% of the £1.6 million project funding. There is considerable farmer involvement in the Local Action Group and this ratio reflects the funding priorities in West Kent.

Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the West Kent Partnership, added: "I am delighted that we have been successful with this major bid. The local farming community and rural businesses need our support and encouragement. At the same time, we must also address issues like climate change and respond to the challenges of global, national and regional economic trends in a positive way to generate economic growth and new opportunities.

"This is the first time that West Kent has been eligible for funding through the Leader programme and this is a very welcome opportunity. I am confident that the West Kent Partnership has the expertise and enthusiasm to work together with the West Kent LAG to deliver an innovative and wide ranging programme that could have a significant impact on quality of life in rural West Kent."

For media enquiries, please contact:

Tanya Reed, SEEDA Communications
Phone: 01483 484 200
Email: pressoffice@seeda.co.uk

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155