ARCHIVE: England Rural Development Programme

The Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES)


The primary aim of the Rural Enterprise Scheme is to provide targeted assistance to support the development of more sustainable, diversified and enterprising rural economies and communities to assist their regeneration and adjustment to the declining importance of agriculture and to the demands of the rural economy.

The scheme covers a very broad spectrum of potentially eligible activities but all projects must fall within one of the following categories laid down in the RDR:

  • Setting-up of farm relief and farm management services
  • Marketing of quality agricultural products
  • Basic services for the rural economy and population
  • Renovation and development of villages and protection and conservation of the rural heritage
  • Diversification of agricultural activities and activities close to agriculture to provide multiple activities or alternative incomes
  • Agricultural water resources management
  • Development and improvement of infrastructure connected with the development of agriculture
  • Encouragement for tourist and craft activities
  • Protection of the environment in connection with agriculture, forestry and landscape conservation as well as with the improvement of animal welfare.

The scheme is open to farmers and a range of other rural businesses (partnerships and companies) and rural communities but the final beneficiaries of the grant aid must be non-public sector organisations.

There are three levels of grant aid depending on the extent of any commercial return on the project:

  • 50-100% for projects which have a minimal economic return to the applicant (i.e. a project that principally benefits the local community or environment).
  • 30-50% for projects where an economic return to the applicant is the primary objective of a project.
  • 15-30% for projects generating a substantial economic return to the applicant (an annual return in excess of 25 per cent of the total investment).

RES is generally managed on a regional basis with each region assessing applications on a competitive basis against regional needs and priorities. A separate fund is managed by MAFF HQ for projects which cover the national marketing of quality agricultural products.

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