The England Rural Delivery Programme (ERDP) contributes to the delivery of the Government's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food by helping farmers and foresters to respond better to consumer requirements and become more competitive, diverse, flexible and environmentally responsible. It also provides help to rural businesses and communities which need to adapt and develop.
The ERDP provides a framework for the operation of 10 separate but integrated schemes which provide new opportunities to protect and improve the countryside, to develop sustainable enterprises and to help rural communities to thrive. A total of £1.6 billion of EU and Government money is being made available under these schemes in England during the seven years (2000–06) of the Programme. Within Lancashire there a re nine ERPD funded schemes available of which the Rural Development Service administers seven. These are, Countryside Stewardship Scheme, Rural Enterprise Scheme, Process and Marketing Scheme, Vocational Training Scheme, Energy Crop Scheme, Organic Farm Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme.
The Rural Payments Agency and Forestry Commission administer the Hill Farm Allowance and Woodland Grant Scheme respectively.
The Forestry Commission as yet does not currently make specific allocations to counties, but it is moving towards regional allocations through the Regional Forestry Framework and it is envisaged that this will in turn lead to county allocations. During 2004 the Woodland Grant Scheme paid out £300,000 towards new planting and woodland management plans. Within the constituency of Chorley, the total ERDP payments for 2004 were £152,000.
Defra will shortly launch a new scheme called Environmental Stewardship (ES). ES will be launched in England early 2005 to replace the existing agri-environment schemes (Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Countryside Stewardship and Organic Farming Schemes). ES has been developed with a high level of public consultation and a significant and much appreciated contribution from stakeholder organisations.