FENLANDER: Businesses urged to apply for grant from �2.5m rural programme pot

NEW and existing businesses in Fenland are being urged to take advantage of a big pot of money that is currently on offer to help them expand.

Grants worth about �2.5million are available for distribution over the next two years through the Fens Adventurers Rural Development Programme.

The programme invests in existing or new businesses and community enterprises, focusing on four key priority areas: sustainable food and farming, rural business development, sustainable rural tourism and enterprising communities.

Grants totalling nearly �1.4million have been awarded to 35 businesses since the programme was launched in 2009. The usual grant is 40 per cent of the costs of a project with private sector match funding required.

The programme is mainly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, with other support provided by local authorities, including Fenland District Council.

Mike Carter, the programme manager, said: “The aim is to ensure that any grant adds value locally and supports the overall strategy to strengthen the economy, increase job opportunities and enhance the quality of life for people in the Fens.”

Fenland businesses that have already benefited from the grants include:

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Charles David Photography (March): Awarded �10,000 to help provide a fully equipped photographic studio. The project also involved developing a programme of subsidised training modules for the local community. In addition, the company provides a subsidised photography package for local enterprises. Company director Dr Christopher Ley said: “Aside from the cash injection, the whole grant process gave us an opportunity to really consider where we wanted to go with the company – it was hugely beneficial in the long term.”

L&AE Munns (Chatteris): �35,262. Helped to expand the existing rapeseed oil business – initially into rearing geese for the Christmas market and subsequently producing goose fat for local delicatessens as well as golden syrup. The grant contributed towards the construction of bottling machinery and a new processing facility.

Tall Trees Leisure Park (Guyhirn): �30,060. To increase the capacity for static caravans at this camping and caravan park. Owner Colin Fryett said: “The grant enabled us to bring our expansion project forward by three or four years.”

A&EG Heating (Chatteris) �125,000. To help build a new and environmentally innovative onion store. The facility is the most advanced in the UK, with technology that is expected to cut the store’s energy costs by 25 per cent. Heading is a major contributor to Rustler Produce, which supplies 44,000 tons of onions a year to Sainsbury’s.

? For more information about Fens Adventurers grants, call Mike Carter on 01353 865047 or e-mail mike.carter@cambsacre.org.uk

Alternatively, contact Rachel Fuller, FDC’s economic development officer, on 01354 654321 or e-mail rfuller@fenland.gov.uk

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