Planning threat to capital grants

By FWi staff

FARMERS could lose out on new capital grants because government policy on promoting sustainable development in rural areas may clash with planning regulations.

Sean OGrady, director of planning at Stratford-on-Avon District Council, told producers that the governments clamp-down on greenfield development left planners in a dilemma.

He was peaking at a joint NFU/CLA meeting at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

“Unfortunately, [planners] are being pushed into a corner to reject every greenfield development because there is no guidance on what is acceptable agricultural development or what may otherwise be classed as industrial development.

“The government has to realise it cant write academic treatises on countryside use and leave planners to implement it.”

That could jeopardise farmers chances of benefiting from the 1.6 billion rural development plan announced by farm minister Nick Brown last December.

Problems in applying for capital grants could also be experienced much earlier on, warned Farming & Rural Conservation Agencys Malcolm Chalmers.

Some of the schemes designed to offer wider economic support on training, marketing and promotion still dont have rules, he said.

But that should not put off producers from submitting applications.

The clock had begun and some of the West Midlands 23.9m, part of the overall proposed budget contained in Mr Browns plan, would be lost if not allocated by the 2006 deadline.

“The regulation requires grants to be match-funded, but processing and marketing scheme grants could see between 70,000-1.2m on offer – worth considering.”

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