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Rural Development funding

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is a 7 year programme (2007-2013) which is jointly funded by the EU and UK to the tune of £3.9 billion, and succeeds the previous England Rural Development Programme (2000-2006). The RDPE aims to safeguard and enhance the rural environment, improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector and foster sustainable and thriving rural businesses and rural economies. It has 3 main themes which are referred to as Axes:

  • Axis 1 – Improving the competitiveness of the farming and forestry sectors
  • Axis 2 – Improving the environment and the countryside
  • Axis 3 – Rural quality of life and diversification of the rural economy

A minimum of 5% of RDPE funds must be delivered by the LEADER approach, and this is referred to as Axis 4. LEADER is a community led approach that provides opportunities for local communities to identify their needs and devise local strategies for the use of RDPE funds to address them.

The majority of RDPE funding (80%) is allocated to Axis 2, which the Forestry Commission will continue to deliver through the English Woodland Grant Scheme and Natural England will deliver via the existing Environmental Stewardship Scheme (for more information go to

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) will deliver socio-economic elements of RDPE (Axis 1 & 3 plus the LEADER approach) funding in the East of England Region, in close liaison with NE and FC to ensure that the programme is delivered in an integrated way.

There are significant areas of Axis 1 and 3 funding, plus LEADER, that might be of interest to woodland owners and managers, particularly for woodfuel, venison and timber marketing, product diversification and commercial recreation opportunities. To see the draft prospectus and guidance on these opportunities, visit their web site here.

If interested in Axis 1 & 3 funding or LEADER, you are recommended to speak to Dr Mike Render at the Forestry Commission (tel: 01223 773070; or contact the EEDA facilitators: East of England Development Agency (EEDA), The Business Centre, Station Road, Histon, Cambridge CB24 9LQ

Last updated: 31st January 2018