Gildernew announces £100 Million for Rural Development
Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA today announced the proposed allocation of almost £100 million to seven local council groupings to fund vital aspects of the Rural Development Programme.
Seven "clusters", each comprising a number of district councils, will have access to the funding to deliver the Programme and inject money, employment and resources into rural communities across the North.
The Minister said: "This money will help to improve the quality of life in rural areas by supporting a wide range of activities. This will include diversification into non agricultural activities, business creation, village renewal and development, tourism, basic services for rural communities and upgrading of the rural heritage."
During a visit to the offices of the Rural Area Partnership in Derry near the city today, the Minister announced that she has informed the Joint Council Committees for the seven council clusters, of their allocations of funding.
She said: "The Programme is a real lifeline for rural communities and I am very pleased that this large amount of money that has been devoted to the Programme.
"Good progress has been made towards the delivery of this important funding for rural areas. It is to the local councils' credit that they have formed partnerships to inject life and prosperity into their local areas and to inspire local people to come on board to form Local Action Groups. This money will help the Joint Council Committees in partnership with their Local Action Group to make a real difference in delivering on the big issues that cut across all rural communities.
"I am aware that the South West cluster launched its strategy in early December and opened for applications under the Diversification and Business Creation and Development measures from early January while other cluster areas are seeking expressions of interest. This being the case I would encourage all rural dwellers with ideas to improve their situation or indeed the rural economy to engage with their Local Action Group to make full use of the opportunities available."
The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).
In June 2008 an initial £50 million was announced to the council clusters on the basis of their population and weighted by deprivation and today's announcement brings this figure up to £100 million.
The Rural Development Programme is funded under the (EAFRD)