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Defra announces new pre-Brexit fund to better broadband and farm investments

Rural farmers and landowners have been told to expect the reach of superfast broadband speeds with the help of government funding.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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Defra announces new pre-Brexit fund to better broadband and farm investments

Announcing the decision earlier today (July 29), Parliamentary under Secretary of State for rural affairs Lord Gardiner of Kimble said the pre-Brexit grant packages would help farmers not only better mainstream internet connections, but also invest in new farm equipment.

 

The fund will be administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), from money allocated to rural economic development.


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Funding:

  • £30m to improve rural broadband – encourage growth by helping provide broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or faster where this is not available or planned
  • £45m to invest in new equipment – rural businesses, including those engaged in tourism and food production, can apply for funding to invest in their company, helping them to expand, diversify, and invest in new technology
  • £120m for projects that improve farm productivity – help farmers, foresters and landowners manage their land more effectively, including funding for woodland management equipment, creating on-farm reservoirs and using water more efficiently

It will go towards upping rural broadband to speeds of 30Mbps or faster, investments into new technology and routes for diversification, and land use management.

 

Dr Charles Trotman, CLA senior rural business adviser, said: “These grants are the right thing at the right time.

 

“With Brexit around the corner, businesses need to be thinking about ways to make investments that will help them to harness opportunities in a changing market.”

 

Guidance

But a total connection to superfast broadband could be tricky, Dr Trotman said, and the government must ensure there is sufficient time and guidance available to navigate the application process.

 

The next step would be to highlight available opportunities.

 

“A number of well-intentioned grant schemes have not had the desired effect because of weaknesses in how they are promoted and delivered,” Dr Trotman added.

 

“Getting superfast connections to our most remote communities is a vitally important but expensive and complex task.

 

“The key is to mobilise communities which could benefit from this to work together to enable the best possible connections.”

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