RURAL businesses have been urged to apply for £3m worth of European funding which has been protected despite Britain leaving the EU.

Firms across the county can apply for up to £120,000 from three existing cash pots which the Government has guaranteed as it was agreed before exiting the European Union.

The first grant - up to £35,000 - will be given to create or expand small businesses and can be used to develop new products or services.

The second - also up to £35,000 - will be to host events and festivals to attract both domestic and overseas visitors and the third would see up to £50,000 in the food processing sector to support innovation or new products.

OxLEP chief executive, Nigel Tipple, said: "Oxfordshire is a driving force behind ‘UK PLC’ and rural businesses are an important part of our economy.

"In addition to agriculture, the county is home to many rural businesses operating across a range of sectors including automotive, life sciences, and space technology."

The schemes are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - part of the European Structural Investment Fund.

The government has guaranteed that projects signed before the UK leaves the EU will receive the allocated funding providing they are good value for money and are in line with domestic strategic priorities.

Mr Tipple said: "The success of Oxfordshire’s rural economy is as important as the exciting business developments elsewhere in the county.

"Rural communities can protect their heritage while also developing next generation technology uses across the world."

He urged rural firms to bid for their share of the £3m cash pot which the Government has confirmed will be provided despite plans to leave the EU.

Applications for grant funding are open until May 31.