Growth Programme Round 3 application deadline: One month to go

29 September 2020

Farm business

It has been two months since Defra announced some flexibility in light of the impact that COVID-19 has had on farmers trying to comply with the conditions of the RDPE schemes, including the Growth Programme, extending the full application deadline to the end of October 2020.

More information on the flexibilities for both existing RDPE socio-economic projects, and where farmers had been given the go ahead to submit full applications for Round 3 of the RDPE Growth Programme, can be found here. These flexibilities were, in part, as a result of NFU raising concerns and working with Defra and the RPA.

Critical deadline fast approaching

In terms of the new RDPE projects, it is important to remember where flexibility has been given. Defra extended the final deadline for submitting full applications for Round 3 of the RDPE Growth Programme from the end of August 2020 to the end of October 2020. There is now about a month to go to this new deadline and the RPA report they have still not heard from a significant number of applicants. We appreciate this is a period of great challenge and uncertainty, but we would urge farmers to submit full applications as soon as possible, or let the RPA know if no full application is going to be made. As always, keeping in regular touch with the RPA project sponsor is key.

It is also important to remember that, in addition, where project leads are ready to submit their full applications at the end of October but are still awaiting planning permission because of delays within Local Authorities caused by COVID-19, the RPA will accept those applications at that point if they are accompanied by proof that the planning application has been submitted and is expected to be decided by end December. It is expected all other full application paperwork will be submitted by the end of October. The application will not enter the RPA’s appraisal process until final planning permission has been agreed and, unfortunately, if planning permission has not been agreed by 31 December, the RPA will not be able to consider the project for funding.

Extending the deadline for final applications means that the RPA will be finalising its appraisal of some projects and issuing contracts during the first half of 2021. This means that the current end of September 2021 deadline for making claims under this scheme, set out in the handbook, is no longer tenable. As a result this will be replaced with a new claim deadline of the end of September 2022 (previously stated as end of December 2022). It is not expected that all projects will need this long to complete and each project will, of course, be given a realistic and achievable completion deadline as part of the contracting process. However, there is acceptance that some projects will need more time to complete.

For more information on the RDPE Growth Programme, please refer to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development 2014 to 2020 RDPE – Growth Programme Q&A.

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