Further Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs) are to open across the country to ensure a thriving future for the UK’s booming food industry and to help local producers grow more top quality food, the government announced today.
The new zones will make it easier for food and farming businesses, the economic lifeblood of many rural areas, to grow. Local communities will benefit from new jobs and the opportunity to develop tasty and healthy local produce, boosting their economies.
This is the second round of FEZs to be announced after 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships successfully bid earlier this month to secure this status which enables them to streamline the planning rules for food businesses. These areas will now develop plans for local consultation. This latest opportunity will allow bids from other areas of the country interested in developing a Food Enterprise Zone.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
England is famed for the food it produces – from Cornish clotted cream to Melton Mowbray Pork pies - and these Food Enterprise Zones will help our food pioneers to grow and create more jobs and growth in each region.
Our booming food and farming industries are worth more than £100 bn a year to the UK economy, and I want to help these vital producers continue to grow as a key element of our long-term economic plan.
Grants of up to £50,000 are available to set up new FEZs. Based around Local Development Orders, they will streamline the planning process within the FEZ area, making it simpler and easier for food and farming businesses to expand.
As well as attracting investment, the Food Enterprise Zones will encourage closer ties between food and farming businesses to boost the domestic food and farming sector.
FEZs will also allow more local decision making on planning and development issues involving food and farming businesses.
In Leicestershire, for example, the proposed FEZ – which will be subject to consultation - aims to link up farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers across the Melton Borough, the home of Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies, boosting the efficiency of the local food chain. With 19% of people in the area self-employed, the zone should also provide great prospects for new businesses and allow more high-skilled jobs to come to Melton’s local economy.
An explanatory letter and Expression of Interest form was sent to all Local Enterprise Partnerships on Thursday 19 February. The deadline for applications is 16 March 2015.
The Food Enterprise Zones already allocated funding are in:
- South Downs
- Lincolnshire (3 FEZs)
- West Sussex