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16.02.06
Prince of Wales gives support to South West rural development conference

On Friday 3rd February around 180 delegates attended a South West conference focusing on the future of rural development in the region. The event was organised by the South West Rural Enterprise Gateway (SWREG) which offers a region-wide business support package for the rural land-based sector.

'Rural Development - what next?' focused on the benefits of environmental farming and bio-energy in light of new rural development regulations. The conference was backed by a personal message of support from HRH The Prince of Wales, who reinforced the idea that farmers need to adapt their ways of operating to succeed in the current economic climate. He went on to emphasise the necessity of finding business solutions which can increase incomes for farmers as well as providing a sustainable future for the South West.

SWREG project manager David Hynd said: "It was very encouraging to have HRH The Prince of Wales' support for what we have achieved so far. During our first year in operation we have encouraged over 1000 rural businesses across the South West to work together to access research information, utilise business support and receive training to improve their skills and their business' performance.

"The conference also saw the formal launch of the Fresh Start, Fisheries and Exmoor elements of SWREG, so now even more people working in rural industries will benefit from the service." He continued: "It was tremendous to see people from so many different organisations at the event; REG is reliant on their support to really make a difference to rural businesses across the South West."

Rob Hatt, head of community regeneration at the South West Regional Development Agency commented: "The South West RDA is proud to be funding the delivery of the SWREG programme. Our role in this initiative is further evidence of the importance we place on securing the future of the rural economy."

Key speakers included John Mills, director rural policy Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Sir Ben Gill, chairman of the government biomass task force and Caroline Drummond, chief executive Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF).

SWREG which is funded by the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and delivered through the regions Business Links has been developed as a key initiative within the region's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food.

For further information please contact Lisa McGowan of the Marketing-PR Company on 01566 771860 or email: lmcgowan@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the South West Rural Enterprise Gateway project through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Maria Ford, at Government Office South West - 01752 635015 - before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

REG is an element of Business Links 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 the South West Region of England and administered by Business Link.

Others include:

Fresh Start
Farm Business Advice 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.

The South West of England Regional Development Agency was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term economic success of the region. It does this by working with others to give people the skills they need, encourage enterprise, improve infrastructure, help communities with regeneration and promote the strengths of the region.

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

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