£2.79 million funding for bright ideas in rural communities

AlanA pot of £2.79million is now available to support inspirational ideas which will boost the local economy and improve life in the Vale of Usk – the rural wards of Newport and Monmouthshire.

Groups with ideas for new projects are encouraged to get in touch straight away to see if they could be eligible. “We are keen to encourage community groups and rural business partnerships from all sectors including – farmers, producers, tourism providers and others – to come forward with new approaches to boost rural economic growth and improve life in rural areas.” says Alan Michie, Chairman of the Vale of Usk Local Action Group.

After detailed consultation with rural communities, this 20+ strong body of volunteers has come up with a masterplan for the area:

“Digital community hubs; renewable energy awareness days; ways to encourage product innovation, share expertise and shorten supply chains; ideas to improve local services; imaginative approaches to promoting tourism, it’s these ideas and others like them which we are keen to hear about,” says Alan.

The £2.79 million is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It is available until 2020 for the Vale of Usk, a region defined by the rural wards of Monmouthshire (which have benefitted from RDP funding for the past 14 years) and the rural Newport wards of Llanwern and Marshfield, able to benefit for the first time. (Funds can also benefit Monmouthshire’s market towns and the Newport wards of Graig, Caerleon and Langstone.)

Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant says: “I am pleased to see that Monmouthshire and rural Newport are taking advantage of the investment opportunities afforded by The Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020.  I look forward to seeing some exciting projects from this area over the coming years.”

Community groups and business partnerships will be able to apply for up to 80 per cent of eligible costs – development costs which might include expert advice, training, research and pilot projects. Project groups will also be able to call on Monmouthshire County Council’s RDP team for help and advice.

Groups with innovative ideas needing funding are invited to get in touch with the team to find out if they are eligible and how to apply. Groups are also strongly encouraged to start discussions early to ensure their developing ideas support the volunteers’ masterplan, the Vale of Usk Local Development Strategy, which can be found on the website. Phone: 01633 748311, email: zarabligh@monmouthshire.gov.uk or visit www.valeofusk.org.