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28.09.05
South West Farmers Find Sustainable Futures With Business Link

South West farmers are finding ways to make renewable energy work for them thanks to the South West Rural Enterprise Gateway (SWREG), delivered through the Business Link network. Royston Symons has joined with 8 other farmers throughout North Cornwall to receive specialist help from the SWREG service to look into issues of environmental sustainability.

SWREG is an element of Business Link's successful Gateway service aimed specifically at helping rural businesses in the South West through access to information, training and business development support.

Royston who runs Burnsdon Farm near Holsworthy says, "Many farmers are finding it increasingly difficult these days to run a traditional farm. It's not enough to have the livestock and product based crops, you now need to adjust your outlook to utilise your farm and location to the maximum or lose out financially. It's also got to be beneficial to your environment and maintain the rural economy."

SWREG is helping the group research the possibilities of producing energy through hydroelectric, wind and solar power. They are also looking into forming a farmer's co-operative and using the land to produce seeds from which oil can be extracted. This could be converted locally into biofuel to power tractors and other machinery in place of diesel.

The Rural Enterprise Gateway can provide a whole package of services from training bursaries to high level research and information. Royston says it's opened their minds to new opportunities. "I don't think we would have bothered to find out the information individually. But as we get together more ideas have come out of it and what's maybe not suitable for one farm can be taken on board and used in another. It's educated us to the wider implications of what is sustainable and how wide sustainability options are. Royston's group is a classic example of how SWREG can assist rural businesses in attaining goals they would otherwise find difficult to achieve as individuals," comments Lee Richards, Business Link project officer for SWREG in Devon and Cornwall. "The SWREG project provides incredible opportunities for rural businesses in the South West to access a wealth of valuable expertise, knowledge and networks located throughout the region and beyond, in addition to providing funding to assist in delivering group activities. So, whether businesses already belong to some form of group or are considering creating a new group of their own, SWREG can help."

For further information please contact Maxine McAdams at the Marketing-PR Company on 01566 771862 or email: mmcadmas@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Business LInk through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

SWREG is an element of Business Link's Gateway service aimed at helping rural businesses in the south west, through access to information, training and business development support.

It is one of the support schemes aimed at helping rural and land based businesses across Devon, Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly and administered by the Business Link Agricultural Team. Others include:

Cornwall Food and Drink Partnership scheme
Rural Business Support Initiative
Rural Diversification Capital Grant Initiative
Rural Directory

Business Link Devon and Cornwall
Business Link Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the two counties under contract from the DTI's Small Business Service.

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business.

Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

South West of England Regional Development Agency
The South West RDA is one of the nine RDAs covering England and charged with creating conditions in which businesses and communities can thrive. The South West region comprises Gloucestershire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; and the unitary authorities of Bath and North East Somerset, Bournemouth, City of Bristol, North Somerset, Plymouth, Poole, South Gloucestershire, Swindon, and Torbay.
South West England has almost 5 million residents. More than half live in rural areas – the highest proportion for any English region. It also covers the largest land area of any English RDA. The RDA has a budgetary allocation of £131.4 million in 2003/4 and £130.8 million in 2004/5.

European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)
EAGGF is one of the four funds that make up the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which is making £314m available to support the local economy between 2000 and 2006.

EAGGF aims to:

Help preserve the link between diversified farming and the land.
Improve and support the competitiveness of agriculture as a key activity in rural areas.
Ensure the diversification of the economy in rural areas.
Help to keep thriving communities in rural areas.
Preserve and improve the environment, the landscape and the rural heritage.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk