Government to create Food Enterprise Zones to drive local food industry
The Government has unveiled plans to create a number of Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs) to generate investment by simplifying the planning process for local food businesses.
There are 11 proposed areas – including the South Downs, Somerset and Cumbria – that will be allowed to claim grants of up to £50,000 to set up a FEZ.
In an announcement that promised to “unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the countryside and food producers”, Defra stated that there was the potential for the scheme to be rolled out more widely across the country.
While full details are yet to be outlined, each FEZ will be based on Local Development Orders and given more power over its local planning process, allowing food businesses to expand more easily.
In the South Downs, the funding will help enable new dairy production on existing dairy farms by re-using redundant farm buildings and brownfield sites within the National Park. It will also aid the start up of more farm shops.
The 11 proposed Food Enterprise Zones are in Somerset, the South Downs, Cornwall, Cumbria, Lincolnshire (3 FEZs) Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Cheshire and West Sussex.
“Food Enterprise Zones will help unlock the potential of local food and farming businesses, boosting local economies and attracting more investment,” said Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. “Consumers both here and abroad want to buy Great British food. These zones will ensure we can grow more top quality produce and expand our food industry, which is worth more than £100bn a year to the UK economy – more than cars and aerospace combined.
“Food and farming is at the heart of our long-term economic plan and vital to securing Britain’s economic future.”