The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) has just launched the second round of the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS). This scheme awards grants from £2,500 to £25,000 so it’s well worth investigating to see if you are eligible, writes Louis Fell, Partner at George F White, Chartered Surveyors.
The FFIS is a scheme of support, developed to help farming, forestry and horticultural businesses in England become more efficient at using resources. The aim is to help make your business more profitable and resilient whilst reducing the impact of your business on the environment.
Depending on the scheme you have in mind, and the location, grants awarded can be between 15% and 50% of the total.
The application window runs from Tuesday 22nd May 2012 to 5.00pm on Tuesday 17th July 2012.
As in the first round of the FFIS, the five themes that grants are awarded are for:
- Nutrient management
- Energy efficiency
- Water management
- Animal health and welfare
Earlier this year, during the first round of FFIS, 1200 applications were received. The most popular schemes regionally were Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and cattle crushes.
The FFIS is still funding these items along with a number of additional items which will definitely attract funding, for example automatic segregation gates for sheep or cattle and mobile sheep handling systems. Mobile cattle handling systems, crushes, Electronic Identification (EID) equipment and software are available again.
Under the Forestry theme items such as mobile saw benches, chippers and winches are available, but applicants will need to demonstrate a need, and evidence of a market for the timber.
Those in the Severely Disadvantaged Area (SDA) can attract grants of up to 50%, with Non SDA areas attracting up to 40% grants.
Guidance is available on the RDPE Network website rdpenetwork.defra.gov.uk/ which also includes a list of items which will not attract funding. These include: muck spreaders, slurry or manure stores along with GPS equipment for combine harvesters.
In the first round of the FFIS grants we received a number of calls from clients wishing to apply, but the window was very tight and some applicants missed out. This round offers more time, which will undoubtedly mean that there are more applicants, but it is vital to start the process quickly. We know that it is so important to get the application right first time and make sure it contains all the relevant requested information, as the RDPE do not have the time or resources to request missing information. The application form is very comprehensive and is available from 22nd May. Those projects that need grant funding to be able to proceed will score higher in the initial screening process than those that don’t require funding to be able to proceed with their project.
The RDPE are keen to stress that applications must be completed in full and contain all the relevant supporting documentation or they will be rejected. Supporting documents include three independent, comparable, dated and competitive quotes for each item of expenditure as well as the latest two years of accounts, confirmation of private funding, copies of planning permissions and consents (if applicable). Other supporting information depending on which theme your application falls under, includes copies of your current Health plan which states the need for equipment, copies of nutrient management plans amongst other things.
The RDPE can be contacted for more information or you can contact either myself Louis Fell, or Claire Bainbridge at George F White on 01665 603231 to have an informal chat about the opportunities at any time.’
For more information about George F White, please go to www.georgefwhite.co.uk
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