About £100m of capital grant funding is still available for new projects in England through to the end of 2013 after RDPE’s capital grants scheme moved from the control of Rural Development Agencies to Defra on 1 July.

From April next year bids may have to compete on a national rather than a regional basis, possibly making funding harder to win, warns consultant Andersons.

Support for a wide range of farm diversification including retail ventures, holiday and business accommodation was still available, said the firm’s Oliver Lee.

Priority areas include skills and knowledge transfer, improving the competitiveness of farming, especially in the uplands, support for development of the rural economy, particularly through rural broadband and tourism.

Defra also plans to introduce a new national small grants scheme this autumn, providing funds of £5,000 to £25,000, probably for projects with a total cost of £10,000 to £50,000. A larger scale national grants scheme for project sizes of more than £50,000 is likely to be launched late this year and there will also be specific uplands support.

“For those with larger projects it may well pay to get everything in place during the coming winter. It can take 12 months to pull together a project, especially if planning permission is involved and funding has to be put in place,” said Mr Lee.