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£500m scheme can transform rural Derry

29 January, 2008 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has hailed a new £500 million agricultural development scheme as an unprecedented opportunity for rural Derry.

"Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew plans to invest over £500 million in the Rural Development Programme by 2013 and I am urging all rural groups in the Derry area to ensure that this region gets its fair share of that investment," Ms. Anderson said.

"Michelle Gildernew has been to visit this constituency on a number of occasions and she is acutely aware of the needs of the rural community here so she is more than willing to make the necessary investment available.

"Indeed, this investment represents a much greater investment than was available under the previous programme. Michelle has also succeeded in securing a further £15 million into Axis III of the programme which deals specifically with rural development and an additional £10 million to tackle rural poverty and social exclusion.

"However, the people of this area also need to ensure that they play their role in making this programme a success.

"As part of the scheme, Local Area Groups (LAG's) are currently being established and it is these groups which will be responsible for delivering the scheme on the ground.

"Therefore, I am calling on all stakeholders within the rural community of Derry to become involved in these groups and details of how to do so will be advertised in the coming weeks.

"This programme is aimed at improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector, improving the environment and the countryside and contributing towards the quality of life in rural areas and diversification of the rural economy.

"I fully believe it has the potential to transform conditions in rural areas of Derry but it can only reach its full potential if the people here take ownership of it and play as full a role as possible." ENDS

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