More food enterprise zones to be created
Scheme will boost the North West’s booming food industry
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.
Applications which open today for new zones will make it easier for food and farming businesses, the economic lifeblood of many rural areas in the North West, to grow. Local communities will benefit from new jobs and the opportunity to develop tasty and healthy local produce, boosting their economies.
The North West has established some of the UK’s most prestigious Protected Food Name products and profitable food exports which rely heavily on the area’s unique natural environment and history. With exports of Cumbria’s Hawkshead relish now reaching more than 30 countries across Europe and the Middle East and Lancashire’s Goody Good Stuff sweets selling to 20,000 companies worldwide, there are many more opportunities to expand the region’s finest produce.
This is the second round of FEZ 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. This latest opportunity will allow bids from other areas of the country interested in developing a FEZ.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
“The North West produces great food – from Lakeland Herdwick sheep to Lancashire Cheese. These Food Enterprise Zones will help our food pioneers to grow and create more jobs and growth in the region.
“The food and drink industry is a cornerstone of local communities across the North West – contributing £2.3 billion to the economy, which is 10 per cent of the total manufacturing output in the region. I want to help these vital producers continue to grow as a key element of our long-term economic plan.”
FEZs ensure that communities are able to grow their businesses while allowing them to protect their valuable countryside. They will give power to local people – allowing them to decide what kinds of businesses should be in their FEZ and where it should be located, developing those areas that their region excels in.
In the FEZ set up by the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, funding will help develop sites in Penrith, Alson, Appleby and Kirby Stephen – building on an already vibrant food sector including the Eden Brewery, Penrith Toffee and Lakes Free Range Eggs.
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