In March 2016, we launched the first round of the Enterprise M3 Wood Processing Grant Programme for SMEs in the wood processing industry. This is a £2 million initiative over the next 2 years, providing grants to small and medium sized businesses to part-fund the creation and expansion of a network of wood-fuel and timber processing hubs in the area. This programme covers the whole of the Enterprise M3 area and is run by Surrey County Council and the Forestry Commission.
Early workshops held in Summer 2015 indicated a wide mix of potential investors from across Hampshire and Surrey. Applicants for the first round of funding have demonstrated a strong grasp of the needs and opportunities that this funding offers, and we look forward to seeing the hub network develop over the next two years. The next call for projects will go out this autumn, with further calls in 2017.
In support of Growth Deal investors and the wider biomass heat sector, Enterprise M3 have also secured an ERDF funding option to stimulate the sustainable heating sector, especially district heating networks, by promoting opportunities, facilitating supply chain development and encouraging knowledge transfer between users, suppliers and exemplars of best practice. This 3 year project, led by Surrey County Council, includes other Local Authorities, the Forestry Commission and private sector partners who all have an interest in establishing a strategic biomass heat network for the Enterprise M3 area. Members of the Enterprise M3 Rural Action Group have been keen supporters of the project, and will be working with project partners to develop its impact.