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£18.5m Good News Story for Limavady Area

22 January, 2009

Bellarena Sinn Féin councillor Paddy Butcher has announced an £18.5 million boost for the area. The momey will be allocated across rural communities in Limavady Borough Council, Derry City Council, Omagh District Council and Strabane District Council. Cllr Butcher is the chairperson of the North West cluster of the Rural Development Programme Joint Committee which governs the distribution of the fund locally.

Cllr Butcher said:

"After all the bad news stories about the Credit Crunch and unprecedented job losses in the Limavady area it is a blessing to have a good news story to report at last. On the same day as the biggest annual rise in unemployment in 37 years was announced it was like a prayer answered for me to receive the letter from Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development confirming that our area had been awarded £18,484,112.

"The total programme is £500 million, £400 million under Axis 1 and 2 will be delivered direct to the farming sector by DARD. The balance (Axis 3) will be delivered at local level by Local Action Groups (LAGs). There are seven LAGs across the North and Limavady Council is clustered with Derry City, Omagh and Strabane as the North West Group.

"LAGs are governed by a Joint Committee which is made up of elected members from each council and I was honoured to be appointed Chairperson of the North West Joint Committee last summer.

"The European Union has set three main themes within which all Member States are to focus their Rural Development Programmes. These themes known as Axes are- Axis 1 - Improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry by supporting restructuring, development and innovation Axis 2 - Improving the environment and countryside by supporting land management Axis 3 - Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity.

"Central administration of our Cluster will be based in Omagh Borough Council but applications and support services will be delivered locally by each council.

"e have been working with Omagh, Strabane and Derry councils for six months now preparing for the launch. We are fortunate in Limavady to have one of the most experienced teams from the PEACE and LEADER programmes on our staff to deliver a quality local service to local people. Calls for applications will be launched in February and Limavady is ready to go." CRÍOCH

Note to Editors

Under Axis 3 Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity, there are six measures. Each Group will choose how it wishes to allocate its funding in line with the specific needs of their local area. These six measures are:

Diversification into non-agricultural activities which aims to assist farm households to diversify into non-agricultural activities and, as a consequence, maintain or increase the income of the farm households and create employment opportunities. Support for Business Creation and Development which aims to create employment opportunities through promoting entrepreneurship and developing the economic infrastructure in rural areas by providing support to existing micro enterprises or to persons wishing to set up a new micro-enterprise in a non-agricultural sector.

Encouragement of Tourism Activities which aims to use the natural resources in rural areas to attract visitors and create new employment opportunities through the sustainable development of the rural economy by providing support to existing rural tourism enterprises or to persons wishing to set up a new sustainable rural tourism enterprise.

Basic Services for the Economy and Rural Population which aims to improve or maintain the living conditions and welfare of those living in rural areas and to increase the attractiveness of such areas through the provision of more and better basic services for the economy and the rural population. This will be achieved through supporting the improvement of basic services in rural areas, including cultural and leisure activities and related small-scale infrastructure. Support will be provided towards the costs of identifying needs and providing basic services for rural dwellers.

Village renewal and development will integrate village initiatives which promote community development and regeneration, this Measure will support capacity building within and between villages and their surrounding rural areas in the formulation of integrated action plans.

Conservation and Upgrading the Rural Heritage targets the natural resources in rural areas to create new employment opportunities and develop the rural economy through supporting local village initiatives to preserve and upgrade their rural heritage. Technical support to assist business start ups or help new businesses become established and to help existing businesses to consolidate and expand.

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