RURAL parts of Somerset will share more than £3.4m over the next two years for new projects designed to boost economic growth across the county.
The government’s rural England prosperity fund provides capital development grants to rural communities and businesses for projects including farm diversification, boosting rural tourism, and community infrastructure like electric vehicle charging stations.
Somerset Council has made a successful bid to the fund (which replaced a number of EU-funded LEADER scheme following Brexit), securing £3,426,745 to be spent by the end of March 2025.
Businesses and communities in rural areas will have the opportunity to formally bid for portions of this grant from May, with further details expected to be announced in the next two weeks.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) defines rural areas in Somrset as those outside of the larger market towns of Bridgwater, Taunton and Yeovil.
It also does not include the villages around Bath and Weston-super-Mare, both of which have received separate allocations (£427,943 and £442,617 respectively).
Councillor Ros Wyke, portfolio holder for prosperity, assets and development, said: “We are delighted that our submission into the rural England prosperity fund was successful.
“The £3.4m of funding will be used to support businesses and communities
across rural areas of Somerset.
“The aim of the fund is to enable the rural economy to move forward. Capital grants will be available to support investment in business innovation and growth as well as community infrastructure.
“We are currently finalising the application process and will formally launch the scheme in May.
“The allocation of funding will be aligned to our council plan and will address our priorities of making Somerset greener and more sustainable, while building towards an increasingly flourishing and resilient county.”