Councillor John Browne has welcomed the announcent on the changes to the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme.
Last week, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Governement, Phil Hogan announced an increased availability of funding for both private promoters and community groups in rural Ireland.
It is hoped the enhanced concentration on enterprise support in the rural development programme (RDP) will drive the recovery process in rural areas. The rate of aid for private promoters will increase from 50 percent to 75 percent under the changes announced.
“Now that the grant aid is being increased to 75 percent it will be far easier for private and community groups to bridge a 25 percent gap rather than a 50 percent gap as heretofore. This has to be a very positive development,” Cllr John Browne (FG) told the Leader.
A reallocation within the programme will reassign an extra €10 million to the Basic Services measure of the RDP which, while almost fully allocated, still has significant potential. Local Authorities will now be permitted to apply directly to the RDP for funding working in cooperation with community groups. Local Authorities will be eligible to apply for the community rate of aid of 75 percent under the Village Renewal and Conservation measures of the Programme.
The LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme continue to provide significant financial resources to rural Ireland. With an annual budget of €96 million for 2012 it is critically important that the 35 Local Development Companies, rural entrepreneurs and community groups all over Ireland continue to look to the LEADER elements of the RDP to provide the financial support necessary to drive their projects forward.
It is understood that although these changes will go ahead immediately they are still subject to final approval from the European Commission.