Local Action for Rural Development
20 February 2014
A seven strong delegation representing the seven Council Clusters delivering the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme met recently with Minister O’Neill to support a call to secure a sufficient budget to enable the full delivery of LEADER measures within the new programme.
LEADER is founded upon the principle of ‘bottom up’ and the idea of enlisting the energy and resources of local people that can contribute to rural development by forming partnerships between public, private and civil sectors. These partnerships or Local Action Groups are representative of farming, community, business, public and private sectors.
LEADER accounts for 19% of the current Rural Development Programme budget, operated through seven local Council Clusters and engaging 196 Local Action Group volunteer members representing the breadth of rural interests.
Speaking at the meeting, Patsy Bradley of the North East Region Local Action Group said, “We are delighted to be able to present a very positive picture of progress and to highlight the valuable contribution rural development funding is making to the rural economy and quality of life of rural dwellers.”
Mr Bradley went on to state, “Over 1800 projects have received Letters of Offer to the value of over £86 million. This investment has levered an additional £32.7 million in match funding. One third of all projects, almost 600 are farm diversification projects.”
David Kerr, Chair of Down Rural Area Partnership added, “We fully realise current delivery will be the benchmark against which future success will be judged and we are delighted to record a full commitment of the budget, expenditure is on target ensuring no money will be returned to Europe and administration levels for this year are well below the predicted at 12.02%. LEADER is delivering and it can deliver for the new programme.”
Councillor AnneMarie Beattie of Lagan Rural Partnership said, “LEADER has the capacity to reach all rural dwellers, it offers a valuable life line to farmers, farm families, small businesses and communities. We have seen at first hand the difference funding has made to small places and despite perceptions this programme has delivered for everyone. A small amount of funding for a community hall goes beyond the bricks and mortar to provide a range of activities that support the health & well being of our rural population and these services are as relevant to farmers, farm families, young and old alike.”
For more information on the programme and examples of projects funded visit www.ruralnetworkni.org.uk