Significant Milestone of 50million Spend on RDP Projects

18 February 2014

The £50million spend milestone on Axis 3 Rural Development projects is a clear sign that our rural communities require such services, Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Minister was speaking following a meeting at Stormont with representatives from the seven Local Action Groups (LAGS) and Joint Council Committees to discuss the new Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020.

Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas by supporting a wide range of projects including: Diversification into Non-Agricultural Activities, Business Creation and Development, Encouragement of Tourism Activities, Basic Services for the Economy and Rural Population, Village Renewal and Development, and Conservation and Upgrading the Rural Heritage.

Minister O’Neill said: "I can confirm that we have now invested £50million on the ground to projects under Axis 3, a significant milestone for our rural communities and one that we should all rightly be proud of".

"This is clear evidence that Axis 3 of the RDP is revitalising our local rural economy, providing much needed financial support to rural enterprise and business development, in addition to village renewal, farm diversification, rural tourism and the wider rural community".

"There have been hurdles along the way, not least the economic downturn, but it is vitally important that we maintain this momentum to ensure that rural communities have the same access to services as those in urban areas."

Looking ahead to the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, the Minister said: "Under the previous programme Axis 3 has so far created over 500 jobs in rural areas that have supported hard pressed rural communities and it is important that we carry this forward to the Programme".

"I am determined to ensure that the excellent work under the RDP continues and that our rural communities are not abandoned as I strive to create a Programme which is fair and balanced across the priorities".

"To that end I will be asking my Executive Colleagues to support me and our rural communities by providing funding to enable the excellent work in our rural communities to continue."

Notes to editors:

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) is aimed at improving the economic, social and environmental conditions in rural areas throughout the north. It brings together a range of support for rural enterprise and business development, diversification, support for rural communities and rural tourism.

Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP) is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and over this period is worth £100million to the north.

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