This funding from the North West Development Agency is the largest contribution ever from any regional development agency towards rural regeneration.
The RAZ sets out a bold programme of activity for maximising the spend of existing rural programmes and harnessing this new funding. It is expected that the aspirations of the RAZ will be overseen by a Rural Regeneration Company, which will be operational in early 2003.
Mr Toft says: 'I am delighted that funding for Cumbria's Rural Action Zone has been approved. It is especially significant as it is the largest grant of its kind ever to be given. This is excellent news for the whole of Cumbria but in particular the rural areas that were very badly affected by the foot and Mouth crisis. While the rural economy is already benefiting from RAZ through initiatives already underway, this new funding, which will be spread over a five year period, will have a tremendous impact on the worst affected areas. It will help broaden the economic base of rural Cumbria as well as benefiting the agricultural and agri-support industries and contribute towards strengthening Cumbria's tourism industry. The funding will also have an impact on rural skills development, sustaining the environment and regenerating rural communities.'
This new funding is the result of the Rural Action Zone 'Next Steps' Strategy, which was overseen by the Cumbria RAZ steering group, which incorporated representatives from public, private and voluntary organisations across the county.
* The£67m is from a pot of£100m made available by the North West Development Agency to aid rural recovery in the whole of the northwest