Plain Action 2

2014 – 2020

At the end of the 2007 – 2013 programme, we were asked to put forward a bid for funding for the 2014 – 2021 programme. At the time Defra was considering asking the EU if the population limit of 150,000 within a LAG area could be increased

It was expected that this would be approved, so we started to prepare the bid based on a larger area, looking at including the A350 corridor from Trowbridge up to Malmesbury. However, this was not to be, and the bid for funding was submitted with a similar area to the previous programme.

The negotiations within the EU on the Common Agricultural Policy were delayed, and it was not until late 2014 that we were informed that the bid had been successful.  There was then a further delay until February 2015 before we were informed of our final allocation.

However, it was November 2015 before all the administrative procedures and forms were in place to allow us to start accepting applications. Part of the new procedures included using “DORA”, the Defra projects database. This was a very different experience to the previous programme, with the same forms and monitoring systems now being used across England, enabling Defra to see at a glance the “progress” of each LAG nationally in committing the allocated funds.

Other significant changes included a maximum grant of 40% for businesses, and revenue projects no longer being eligible for funding. The six priorities for funding were:

  • Support to increase farm productivity
  • Support for micro and small businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification
  • Support for rural tourism

 

  • Support for rural services
  • Support for cultural and heritage activity
  • Support for increasing forestry production

As you will see from the review (visit Our Impact for more information) the variety of projects was quite amazing, from innovative slurry projects on farms, to community projects and start-up businesses. 

During the latter half of 2013 and 2014 a significant pipeline of projects was created, but the delay in starting meant that many businesses had to make alternative arrangements, to be able to deliver timely expansion plans. This resulted in a delay in 2016 before projects could be approved. Unfortunately, this was then followed by the EU referendum in June 2016, with its six-week purdah period beforehand, and a further ten-week delay afterwards, whilst the Government reacted to the results. This again saw projects withdrawing, either because of the delay in approval, or the uncertainty of what was about to happen.

Most of the previous projects in the Plain Action area have been community or revenue projects. Restricting funding to capital projects only had a significant effect on the number of applications received, resulting in a lower uptake of funding.

Fortunately, the Vale Action area received more applications than it could fund, and money was transferred from Plain Action to Vale Action, to allow these additional projects to be funded.