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Gildernew launches Local Action Group

2 July, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has launched one of the first Local Action Groups (LAG) formed under the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013.

The Down Rural Area Partnership LAG serving the cluster comprising Ards, Down, North Down and Banbridge council areas met with the Minister at Stormont today.

The Minister said:

"I am pleased that we are now at the stage of ratifying Local Action Groups. These Groups are made up of local people with wide ranging skills and expertise who will play a vital role in the administration of funding in the area. Each LAG will be responsible for producing a strategic plan that will set out a range of rural development priorities aimed at addressing need in the area.

"It is to the local councils' credit that they are striving to get the RDP up and running as soon as possible. I am delighted that they are engaging in delivery, to ensure that time will not be lost in getting these funds out to meet the needs of their rural areas.

"The next stage in the process provides a real opportunity for rural dwellers to influence the strategies that will be drawn up in each of their areas. The RDP will provide the opportunity for significant investment in rural areas as well as encouraging individuals and organisations to work together to enhance and improve the lives of all those living in rural communities."

Noteas to editors

  1. The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 was approved by the European Commission on 24 July 2007.
  2. Approximately £100million of the funding through Axis 3 will be delivered at community level with new local action groups developing tailored strategies and programmes for their area.
  3. Axis 3 of the programme contains the following 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.

The Minister had asked local Councils to come together in clusters to deliver the new programme on a sub-regional basis, and seven clusters were formed. 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. To date five Local Action Groups have been formed.

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