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Gildernew improving quality of life in rural areas

1 May, 2009

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA today launched an investment of £13million for the North East under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013.

The North East Local Action Group (LAG) will deliver the RDP in the Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne and Moyle council areas.

Just over £13million has been set aside for the group to help improve the quality of life in rural areas by supporting a wide range of activities including, farm diversification into non-agricultural activities, business creation, village renewal and development, and tourism, as well as the upgrading of rural heritage.

Speaking at the launch the Minister said: “The North East cluster is one of seven ‘clusters’ created to inject money, employment and resources into rural communities across the north.

“Best results are always achieved when people work together. The establishment of your joint committee, Local Action Group and formulation of a local rural development strategy has involved a lot of hard work. Building blocks are now in place and with funding of just over £13million, the real challenges lie ahead in ensuring that good projects are funded to diversify the rural economy and improve the quality of life in rural areas.

“There are numerous examples of excellent projects in this area which benefited from previous Rural Development Programme funding, for example, Loughgiel Community Centre and Ballyeamon Camping Barn near Cushendall. Both projects are a great example of what can be achieved and should encourage local people to avail of the opportunities that exist within the new Programme.”

The Minister concluded: “It is for everyone involved in the delivery of the Rural Development Programme to ensure that we keep sight of our common goals and work together to deliver the best result for the rural community as a whole. I wish you well in taking forward this new programme and I have no doubt your efforts will reap real benefits for the rural dwellers of this cluster area.”

The cluster has opened for potential applicants to submit expressions of interest. For further information please contact Eamonn Matthews tel: 028 2563 8263

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