Rural communities, rural economies and the environment have all benefited
from Defra's England Rural Development Programme (ERDP), a report out today
The ERDP Annual Report 2004 shows that substantial progress is being made towards
realising the ambitious environmental, social and economic outcomes envisaged
in the Programme. For example, in the last year alone:
- Over 2,000 full time equivalent jobs were created or sustained under new
Rural Enterprise Scheme projects;
- Over 29,000 training days were secured for farmers and foresters under the
Vocational Training Scheme.
- 6,000 hectares of new woodland were approved to be planted under Woodland
Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme agreements;
- Countryside Stewardship agreements, reached a total estimated cumulative
area of 325,000 hectares;
- Environmentally Sensitive Area agreements reached a total estimated cumulative
area of 132,000 hectares;
- 16 collaborative marketing ventures were established under new Processing
and Marketing Grant projects;
Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight said:
"As well as delivering real benefits for rural communities, their economies
and the environment, the ERDP also helps farmers to diversify their businesses,
reconnect with their markets and acquire the skills they need to manage their
businesses viably and competitively in response to the reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy and the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme."
Of the 10 schemes originally brought together under the collective banner of
the ERDP, 5 of them were effectively closed to new applicants during the year
in preparation for the introduction of two new schemes to replace them.
The Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Organic Farming
Schemes were closed to new applicants to be replaced by a single scheme called
Environmental Stewardship in March 2005. The Woodland Grant Scheme and the Farm
Woodland Premium Scheme were also closed to new applicants to be replaced by
the new English Woodland Grant Scheme, managed by the Forestry Commission in
As part of Rural Strategy 2004, Defra has reviewed its funding streams for
rural areas. The Department is committed to reducing the current range of schemes
and programmes to a framework based around three major funds targeted to the
three Departmental strategic priorities impacting on rural areas: environmental
land management and natural resource protection; sustainable rural communities;
and sustainable food and farming. This approach aims to achieve greater simplicity
for customers and to improve value for money; it is being implemented progressively,
with the final stage to be completed with the roll out of the next rural development
Defra is now preparing for the successor to the ERDP, which will operate from
2007 to 2013. A full public consultation on the proposed new European draft
Rural Development Regulation was held over the Summer of 2004 after the first
draft of the regulation was published in July 2004. The experience of operating
rural development measures since 2000 and before will be used to inform decisions
to be taken about the future structure and delivery arrangements for the ERDP
from 2007 onwards.
1. The ERDP Annual Report 2004 is available online at: www.defra.gov.uk
2. The ERDP is a seven year, £1.6 billion programme launched in October
2000. The Programme is co-financed by the European Union and, since 2001, is
also supported by the redirection (or "modulation") of funds from
production-related subsidy under the Common Agricultural Policy into rural development
3. The ERDP provides a framework for the operation of a number of separate
but integrated schemes, which provide new opportunities to protect and improve
the countryside, to develop sustainable enterprises and to help rural communities
to thrive. The schemes that were in operation in 2004 were:
- Hill Farm Allowance (supporting sustainable farming in the English
- Energy Crops Scheme (encouraging renewable energy production).
- Rural Enterprise Scheme (supporting a diversified and enterprising
- Vocational Training Scheme (improving occupational skills of farmers).
- Processing and Marketing Grant (improving agricultural processing
and marketing infrastructure).
- Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas Schemes
(protecting landscapes and wildlife habitats, improving biodiversity).
- Organic Farming Scheme (promoting organic production).
- Woodland Grant and Farm Woodland Premium Schemes (encouraging
planting of new woodland and maintenance of existing woodland).
4. The Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Countryside Stewardship and Organic
Farming, were replaced, by Environmental Stewardship (ES) which was launched
on 3 March 2005. The scheme is made up of three elements; Entry Level Stewardship
(ELS), Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) and Higher
Level Stewardship (HLS).
5. The Woodland Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme have now been
merged into the English Woodland Grant Scheme.
6. For more information on any of the schemes in the ERDP, contact your local
Defra Rural Development Service office or visit the Defra website