Several major pig production regions are covered by the latest government move to set up six new Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs), part of a programme designed to “kick-start” local food and drink economies.
The new FEZs, joining 11 previous zones, cover central Bedfordshire, Gipping Valley and Orwell in Suffolk, Greater Norwich, North Somerset, and Ryedale, North Yorkshire.
The FEZ programme is geared to make it easier for existing businesses to expand and for new ones to set up, attracting investment and boosting the rural economy.
“They will help forge closer links through the entire food chain, joining up farmers, manufacturers, retailers and researchers, and helping businesses realise the full value of our food and drink,” said environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss.
“Consumers both here and abroad want to buy great British food and drink and these zones will ensure our entrepreneurs can put great ideas into practice.”
The FEZ programme is structured to help streamline planning procedures for businesses that meet their local zone’s criteria, making it cheaper and simpler for them to expand. The government is also awarding grants of up to £50,000 to successful bidders to develop FEZ proposals.
Development examples for the new zones include the planned creation of a business and logistics park in the Gipping Valley Food Cluster to support the development of the local food economy around Stowmarket.
Another planned FEZ project, focused around the Royal Norfolk Showground and the Easton and Otley College area, includes food production, food research, education and ancillary businesses and, potentially, the relocation of Norwich livestock market.
Plans for York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding include creating a “thriving agri-food park employing over 500 people near Malton”. It is also planned to relocate Malton’s livestock market to a “purpose-built facility surrounded by food and farming-based businesses, with additional space for businesses developing new ideas at the nearby National Agri-Food Innovation Campus”.