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Local people key Role in Rural Development Delivery

20 September, 2007


The Sinn Féin Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle Gildernew today announced her intention to give local people and local Councils a greater role in rural development.

Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, said that following lengthy consideration she has decided that the 'Quality of Life' Measures and the Farm Family Options Measure within the new Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, which are worth over £100m, will be delivered using the 'bottom up' Leader methodology, but with local Councils playing a more central and strategic role.

Ms Gildernew said her decision was taken following intensive consultation with all interested parties including Councils and a raft of rural organisations who have been instrumental in making the current Programme such a success.

The Sinn Féin Minister intends to invite local councils to come together in clusters to deliver the new programme on a sub-regional basis. Each cluster will work with a new, locally formed Action Group to prepare and implement a local rural development strategy aimed at addressing need in the area.

Ms Gildernew added:

"My objective is to ensure that this funding is released as soon as possible, whilst also ensuring that the delivery mechanism is inclusive and accountable.

"I firmly believe that this new approach will maximise the benefits of the Programme for rural dwellers including the farming community.

"I would therefore encourage councils to work with my officials to get the new arrangements up and running as soon as possible. I would also ask all of the rural organisations that have done so well in the past, to get involved in the new Local Action Groups to make the programme a success for local people".

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 was approved by the EU's Rural Development Committee on 24 July 2007. This Committee is composed of representatives of the European Commission and all 27 Member States.

2. The Department is required to consult the Assembly Committee on the enabling legislation and will do as rapidly as possible.

3. The Axis 3 of the New programme contains the following Quality of Life measures:

3.1: Diversification into non-agricultural activities
3.2: Business creation and development
3.3: Encouragement of tourism activities
3.4: Basic services for the economy and rural population
3.5: Village renewal and development
3.6: Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

4. The Axis 1 measure is Farm Family Options.

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