Witney News - £2.5 million rural development funding bid goes in

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£2.5 million rural development funding bid goes in

West Oxfordshire District Council has submitted a bid for up to £2.5 million from EU and Government sources to support new rural development projects in West and North Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds over the next six years.

Now the countdown is on until May when the Council and its bidding partners – Cotswold District Council and Cherwell District Council - are hoping to learn that they have been successful in obtaining this massive potential boost for the economies and environment in the more rural parts of their areas.

The money could be spent to help finance projects in an area of more than 2000 km2 stretching from Tetbury in the south-west to the borders of Worcestershire and Warwickshire in the north. In West Oxfordshire it takes in rural villages and towns from Kelmscott and Minster Lovell in the south to Great Rollright and Swerford in the north, Burford and Taynton in the west and Tackley and Wootton near Woodstock in the east.

“In West Oxfordshire we have already had a great deal of success in helping get rural projects off the ground through the Leader+ programme that ends this year,” says Council Leader, Barry Norton.

“Our aim now is to build on this and we are hopeful that in May there will be some very good news about more financial support.”

The bid has been submitted to the Government’s South East England Development Agency –SEEDA. The agency has already made it clear that priority for any grant allocation should be given to innovative ideas in farming, forestry, business and the community, and to projects that could help tackle climate change and reduce demand on the Earth's natural resources.

Strong emphasis would be on capital projects involving machinery and buildings. Money could be allocated for things like farm diversification to develop new farm shops or convert buildings for tourist accommodation.

Environmental projects could focus on a move into growing crops to produce biofuels or, for instance, converting a school heating system to burn wood instead of oil.

Already there is a range of good ideas from the three districts involved and a local action group of representatives from over 20 community and voluntary bodies has been set up to agree priorities for funding. Autumn 2008 is likely to be the earliest any project with this support could go ahead.

Posted : 01/02/2008 18:36:55

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