The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is a seven year programme (2007-2013), which is worth £3.9 billion over all, jointly funded by the EU as part of the Common Agricultural Policy, and national Government. It aims to support and promote sustainable farming, forestry and food sectors, and also bring wider benefits for the rural economy, the environment and communities.

The RDPE replaces the England Rural Development Programme (which ran from 2000-2006) and, in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Objective One (EAGGF). It is based on a new EU Rural Development Regulation (Council regulation 1698/2005). The Programme was approved by the European Commission in December 2007.

The RDPE has four priority-axes for rural development. Three axes focus the delivery of the Programme:

Axis 1 – Improving competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sectors
Axis 2 – Improving the environment and the countryside
Axis 3 – Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity

In addition, 5% of the EU funding in the Programme budget will be delivered through the ‘Leader approach’ (Axis 4), which is a community based delivery mechanism.

Role of the Delivery Partners and Defra

The South West of England Regional Development Agency is responsible for the delivery of the economic and social funding through the Programme (Axes 1, 3 and 4) in the South West region. The budget for the delivery of Axes 1, 3 and 4 in the South West is £156.8 million over the Programme period. Of this amount, £55 million has been reserved for investments benefiting Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in recognition of its status as a Convergence area.

Prospectus for rural businesses and communities – The RDA has produced a prospectus, which sets out the support available to rural businesses and communities through this part of the programme: RDPE Prospectus (Adobe Acrobat Reader Document – 1618.22kb)

Natural England and the Forestry Commission are responsible for the delivery of agri-environment funding (covered by Axis 2). Natural England will also deliver the Energy Crops Scheme, which is also part of the RDPE. Overall, Axis 2 accounts for 80% of the total funding for the RDPE.

Defra is the Managing Authority for the RDPE and as such are responsible for the operational implementation and management of the programme in an efficient, effective and correct way. In order to achieve this, Defra will work closely with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and the three delivery partners.

Programme Documents

The RDPE National Programme Document is available on the Defra web site.

RDPE in the South West – The South West Regional Implementation Plan (SWRIP) sets out the principles and priorities for the RDPE in the region and how the Programme will be delivered: South West Regional Implementation Plan (May 2008) (Adobe Acrobat Reader Document – 1682.75kb)

Questions and Answers – Defra has produced a Q & A in partnership with Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Regional Development Agencies, which is regularly updated.