was announced today by rural affairs minister Alun Michael.
Farmers will be entitled to a day of a planning consultant's time,
apply for a farm diversification grant under the Rural Enterprise
Speaking at the Local Government Association rural conference in
Buxton, rural affairs minister, Mr Michael said:
'We are determined to give farmers the vital help and support they
need for diversifying their businesses as a consequence of foot and
mouth disease and more generally falling economic returns. They may
well want to move from traditional crop or livestock production
into different forms of farming or activities completely outside
farming, such as farm shops and tourism activities like Bed and
Breakfast. This advice will help farmers with that important first
step along the road to understanding and satisfying the
requirements of the planning system.'
The standard package will fund: a site visit; an initial planning
feasibility study, including advice on local planning consents
required for their Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES) diversification
projects; and site plans and sketches. Where appropriate, the
consultant will suggest options for amending the project so that
the best possible planning application can be made.
The scheme fulfils the commitment in The Action Plan for Farming,
launched by the prime minister in March 2000, to provide free
planning advice for farmers pursuing diversification projects.
Details are available in a leaflet from DEFRA or on the
Once farmers have their application approved, they are helped by a
consultant from one of four approved professional bodies and
reimbursed by DEFRA for the costs involved.
Farmers considering their future business opportunities can also
call on the services of the Farm Business Advice Service.
1. Farmers wishing to take up this free planning advice should
apply to their local DEFRA office and further details are in the
booklet 'Planning Consultancy Advice for Farm Diversification -
Guidance for applicants'. They will need to provide a summary of
the diversification idea they want to pursue. If the project is
accepted in principle, the farmer will be given approval to contact
four professional planning bodies for a list of suitable
consultants in their area. He/she will employ and pay the
consultant and be reimbursed by DEFRA.
2. Assistance will be made available to farmers wishing to pursue
viable diversification projects under the Rural Enterprise Scheme
(RES), which forms part of the England Rural Development Programme
(ERDP). This takes the form of an initial planning
appraisal/feasibility study undertaken by professional planning
consultants that are members of either the Royal Town Planning
Institute, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, British
Institute of Agricultural Consultants and the Royal Institute of
British Architects. They will also need to prove they have at
least five years' experience in town and country planning,
particularly in the rural context.
3. There will be a ceiling of up to£800 per application covering
the whole task, which will equate to approximately one day of
consultant's time. More time may be authorised in exceptional
circumstances where it is justified by very large or complex
4. Guidance for applicants and consultants is available from
DEFRA's Rural Development Service located at DEFRA regional offices.
Details are also available from the DEFRA website
5. The Farm Business Advice Service is delivered on behalf of
DEFRA by the Small Business Service through Business Link operators.
The Farm Business Advice Service was launched last year and is
being funded under the Agriculture Strategy Programme. The
service remains available to all farmers. Farmers interested in the
Farm Business Advice Service should call the Small Business Service
call centre on 0845 6009006 to register an interest.