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£10m EU money to benefit Waveney Valley

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 February 2009 | UPDATED: 07:57 01 August 2010

THE Waveney Valley could become the "Loire Valley of the area" if a new EU-funded project goes to plan.

The project, which will focus on creating a distinctive tourism "brand" for Waveney like that of the Norfolk Broads or the Norfolk Coast, aims to boost the economy by raising the profile of the area and encouraging the assets that make it distinctive.

THE Waveney Valley could become the “Loire Valley of the area” if a new EU-funded project goes to plan.

The project, which will focus on creating a distinctive tourism “brand” for Waveney like that of the Norfolk Broads or the Norfolk Coast, aims to boost the economy by raising the profile of the area and encouraging the assets that make it distinctive.

Enterprises in towns or villages including Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Loddon, Diss and Harleston will have the chance to apply for a share of £10m in EU funding, which has been secured by Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Rural Business Advice Service (NRBAS).

The funding will be shared with two other areas, The Brecks and Norfolk Coast and Broads, which each have different objectives regarding how the money will be used. However for all three the idea is to give East Anglian businesses a helping hand to beat the recession.

Michael Mack, director of the Norfolk Rural Business Advice Service, said: “The Waveney Valley idea came about from talking with a lot of people that live and work in the area who could see the beauty and creativity there.

“It's a lovely place to live and work. They felt that if we put the effort in to promote it won't be a place to drive through. We want to make it into the Loire Valley of the region- you can't draw a line around it but people pick the area to visit, like they pick the Norfolk Broads.”

The scope of firms and organisations eligible to apply for the funding range from farmers, charities, woodland owners and forestry businesses, training providers, and those in the tourism industry.

In the Waveney Valley there are five main objectives, including developing opportunities to reduce the gap between the urban and rural areas, which could include the development of care farming, diversifying, or the development of social enterprise; working with local businesses and communities to help them benefit from the distinctiveness and special character of Waveney; and developing and promoting local supply chains and to work with the poultry, pig and grazing animals sectors to reduce risk through diversification.

Other objectives are to increase the use of the landscape and environment for social benefits, encouraging business development across the land based sector through diversification and tourism, and to develop meaningful and effective collaboration across the business and community sectors to improve the prosperity of the area, thus creating economic opportunities for tourism, local food and artisan businesses.

Over the three areas it is estimated that the schemes could create or maintain up to 380 countryside jobs, and as applicants are expected to provide some match funding it could double the boost to the local economies.

Local action groups (LAG) are already in place for each area - made up of representatives from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, who wished to have an input into the way the funding programme was developed and which projects are funded between now and 2013.

Pat Holtom, chairman of the Waveney Valley LAG, said: “This is really good news - I am delighted that this programme is now moving forward bringing some much needed funding into the Waveney Valley Area which will help support the economy as well as raising the profile of the area as a whole.

“The Waveney Valley has tremendous potential and this is an opportunity to develop a clear identity for it across both District and County boundaries and establish it as a coherent and distinctive area with both economic and environmental potential.”

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