Rural Development Programme for England Network News: May 2019 
Welcome to the May 2019 edition of the RDPE Network Newsletter with information about what’s new in the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
In this edition we give more information about:
EU Exit
Countryside Stewardship
Catchment Sensitive Farming 
Countryside Productivity
Growth Programme
Defra at agricultural events
The latest European Network for Rural Development event in Brussels

 EU Exit Update 

The UK Government has reached an agreement with the EU on an extension until 31 October at the latest, and crucially with the option to leave earlier as soon as a deal has been ratified.
No Deal remains the legal default at the end of the extension period. As a responsible Government, we have been preparing to minimise any disruption in the event of no deal. When necessary we will continue to update our advice on on how people should prepare.
The UK Government
has guaranteed that any Rural Development Programme projects where funding has been agreed before the end of 2020 will be funded for their full lifetime. This applies in both a negotiated and a “no-deal” scenario. It will ensure continued funding for these projects until they finish and means that Defra and the devolved administrations can continue to sign new projects after the UK leaves the EU during 2019 and 2020.
During the course of the extension, the UK will continue cooperation as a full Member State with all the relevant rights and obligations.

 Countryside Stewardship 

Interested in applying for Countryside Stewardship?

There is just one day left to request your pack. Application packs can be downloaded through the online Rural Payments Service, or you can request to receive an application pack in the post by contacting the RPA by 31 May.

The application round for CS Mid Tier and Wildlife Offers closes on 31 July 2019.

Woodland creation, management plan and tree health grants are open all year round. High Tier and Hedgerows & Boundaries grant closed on 3 May 2019. 
We are encouraging anyone with an expiring ES agreement or land managers new to stewardship to read about the scheme on GOV.UK, where you can obtain an application form to see what you are eligible to apply for. 
The deadline for RPA to receive ES and CS revenue claims and supporting documents closed on 15 May 2019.  Capital claims can be submitted at any time of the year, but after the capital works are completed and paid.
More on the scheme
We currently have 25,850 agri-environment agreements (both countryside and environmental stewardship) delivering on a number of environmental goals:
  • conserving wildlife and habitats;
  • protecting natural resources by improving water quality and reducing soil erosion;
  • maintaining and enhancing landscape quality and character;
  • protecting the historic environment; and
  • responding to climate change by protecting existing soil carbon levels, increasing carbon sequestration and supporting the adaption of the natural environment to climate change.
Further information on all the Countryside Stewardship schemes is available here on GOV.UK & the grant finder tool can be accessed here.

Woodland creation grant

Are you thinking of creating a new woodland or extending an existing woodland? Apply for a Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation grant!
In 2018 the Forestry Commission (FC) had more applications for the woodland creation grant than ever before, an increase in 40% from 2017. The grant is for a 2 year capital works programme to plant and protect young trees.

You can make your application at any time with the rolling window, but you should allow at least 5 months for your application to be processed.
So submit your application now to get ready for the next planting season. The sooner you start to think about your woodland the better. By planning in advance, you can reduce the changes likely to be needed during the application process. This will speed up your application’s processing.
The UK government has guaranteed that any agreements where funding, has been agreed before the end of 2020, will be funded for their full lifetime (even in a no-deal scenario). Use the woodland creation grant: Countryside Stewardship manual on GOV.UK to help you with your application.

Further information about the grants and support available from the Forestry Commission which come under Countryside Stewardship, is available at GOV.UK.
 Catchment Sensitive Farming 

Natural England supports farmers to tackle air pollution
Did you know that free expert support and confidential advice is available now from local air quality specialists, enabling farmers to choose the best way forward for their farm?
The Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) partnership has worked with over 20,000 farms since 2006, supporting them through training events, one-to-one advice, individual farm visits and support with grant applications to help them take voluntary action to reduce water and air pollution. The scheme is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
In September, the government launched a new £3 million air quality project to support farmers through the CSF partnership. Since then, specialists from the successful partnership between the Environment Agency, Defra, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Natural England have been working with farmers across the country to reduce ammonia emissions to improve their farm business and the environment.
Events have been held across the country for farmers to speak with a team of experts from the Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership and leading industry consultants about how they can reduce their ammonia emissions and improve the quality of our best wildlife sites and the air we breathe.
The events included practical field demonstrations and solutions, such as low emission slurry-spreading, to help save farmers money and improve the farmed environment. Industry experts were also available to answer questions on the impact of ammonia emissions on the environment and mitigation measures for farmers across a range of sectors including dairy, beef and arable.
The government is committed to supporting farmers to reduce these emissions as part of the Clean Air Strategy.

Slurry injector injecting dirty water to a field via an umbilical system on the Blackdown Hills
The Great Farm Challenge - Educating the next generation of farmers
The Great Farm Challenge is a collaborative project, delivered by Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming team, the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Anglian Water. Recently the partnership have unveiled this year’s champion young farmers.
Young farmers with outstanding ideas for running a successful farm whilst caring for the environment and local water and air quality have been awarded the prestigious Great Farm Challenge Award 2019.
The young farmers focused on minimising run-off from pesticides, nutrients and suspended solids such as sediment and algae that can be problematic for aquatic life, whilst also looking at ways to improve air quality and use water wisely on the farm. Ideas brought forward in this year’s competition included using a tramline to reduce the risk of water pollution and methods to stop cattle from drinking directly out of rivers to avoid damage to river banks.
The Catchment Sensitive Farming team, the Environment Agency and water companies for the areas involved have awarded students from agricultural colleges from across the East of England, the North West and the West Midlands with the prestigious prize.

All award finalists – Anglia

Further information about Catchment Sensitive Farming, or details about your local Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer, is available here.
 Countryside Productivity 

The RDPE Countryside Productivity (CP) Scheme provides funding for projects in England which improve productivity in the farming and forestry sectors and help create jobs and growth in the rural economy.  The investment is in two categories:
  1. Small Grants:
  • This scheme uses an online application process and is targeted at supporting farmers to invest in specific pieces of agricultural equipment.  Farmers can apply for a grant of between £3,000 and £12,000 to purchase items from a standard list of eligible items.
  • Around £15m was invested through the first round of this scheme. The details of further rounds are being finalised and will be available online via the link below.
  1. Large Grants:
  • The schemes provide larger grants of £35,000 or more to meet 40% of the costs of capital equipment to improve forestry productivity, improve the processing of primary agricultural products, construct on-farm reservoirs and purchase innovative farming equipment.
  • These schemes have now closed and were very popular. They are on track to spend their full £60m allocation. 
Further information on all the Countryside Productivity schemes is available on GOV.UK
 Growth Programme 

The Growth Programme aims to drive rural economic growth by enabling existing businesses to develop new products and facilities, investing in food processing and promoting rural tourism. The scheme offers funding to rural businesses, social enterprises, charities as well as farmers seeking to diversify into non-agricultural activity.
Overall, under the RDPE Growth Programme 523 businesses have been supported with £90m of funding contracted. So far £30m has been paid to projects, creating 360 full time employment jobs.
The scheme includes the £75m Rural Broadband Infrastructure scheme which supports local authorities for up to 100% of the costs of providing superfast broadband to rural businesses and communities in the most hard to reach parts of the country.
Further information on the current RDPE Growth Programme grants can be found on GOV.UK and information on the wider ESIF Growth Programme can be found here.

LEADER is a mandatory EU wide scheme under the Rural Development Programme.  It uses a tried and tested approach to engaging rural communities in the development of their local area.
To date LEADER groups have considered a total of 4,350 projects worth a total of £161.83m, of which a total of 3,153 projects (worth £115.17m) have already been contracted.   In terms of job creation these contracted projects will deliver a total of 4,888 jobs (1,179 of which have already been created) against an original target of 2,675. We are well on target to meet the EU requirement that at least 5% of the EU contribution to the RDPE Programme budget be spent on LEADER. 
Funding is delivered through 79 LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs) in rural areas to meet local priorities as identified in a group’s own Local Development Strategy.  LAGs, which are selected by Defra/RPA, are constituted of representatives from rural communities, the public sector, local businesses and the voluntary sector, work together to develop and fund projects that help to improve their local rural economy.
Further information on LEADER, including contact details for all the Local Action Groups and a map showing coverage across England, is available on GOV.UK.

 Defra At Agricultural Events 

Want to hear more about the future for farming and our countryside? Defra is coming to an agriculture show near you.
We’ll have stands at the below shows in May and June where Defra policy officials will be happy to chat and take any questions.

  • 5th JuneNSA Sheep North. North Yorkshire.
  • 12th-13th JuneCereals. North Lincolnshire.
  • 14th – 16th JuneThree Counties Show. Malvern, Worcestershire.
  • 18th JuneNSA Sheep South West. Devon.
  • 26th – 27th JuneGroundswell. Weston, Hitchin.
  • 3rd July National Organic Combinable Crops.
  • 9th – 11th July Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate.
  • 26th – 28th July Game Fair, Hertfordshire.
We’ll let you know in due course which shows we’re attending in July and August.
See you there!

 EU Developments 

The RDPE network team attended NetworX – Inspiring Rural Europe, the event building on ten years of rural networking in Europe. This event was organised by The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) and was held in Brussels 11th-12th April 2019.


The aim of the event was to recognise the value of networking for rural development, demonstrate the results of the past ten years of rural networking and proactively look at its future.


There were over 400 rural stakeholders at the event. It was a great opportunity to network with other countries and observe the successes of other projects.
  • The event was an excellent opportunity for the NRN to celebrate the successes of the project funded via the RDPE;
  • The attendance of beneficiaries at the event highlighted the opportunities rural development funding delivers;
  • It provided an opportunity to celebrate the success of a micro-brewery which has diversified their farming business.
Find out more
Find out more about the work of ENRD by following the ENRD and European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture (EIP-Agri) websites, read and subscribe to the ENRD newsletter here. New project examples from across the EU can be found here.

Have you received funding through an RDPE scheme to support a project?
We are always looking to collect further case study information from beneficiaries to better understand the work and impact of projects, and to support our networking activities.
If you would like to share your story with us, please provide the following and we will be in contact to discuss further:
  • Name of your project:
  • Funding scheme:
  • Contact details:
If you would like to contribute information to this newsletter or have ideas and feedback on its development we’d like to hear from you.
Email:, call 0208 2256446 or Tweet us @RDPENetwork.
Previous editions of this newsletter are available here.
Best regards,
Matthew Jesse
RDPE Network Co-ordinator
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