Written answers

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Department of Rural and Community Development

Rural Schemes

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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255. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which her Department has supported various communities throughout the country through the Leader programme in the past year; her current engagements and future proposals in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50299/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The LEADER programme is a key intervention implemented by my Department which will help to underpin the Government's rural development goals as outlined in Our Rural Future.

The LEADER programme is delivered through 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) across rural Ireland. A feature of the LEADER programme is that it is based on a community-led, bottom-up approach to rural development.

The programme includes specific funding themes to support Rural Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation; Social Inclusion, and Rural Environment. Community groups and rural-based businesses can apply for funding under these themes. The website of the National Rural Network contains case-studies of how LEADER has benefited local communities and businesses.

Over 4,700 projects have been approved for €198 million under these themes since the current LEADER programme became operational.

In the last year alone, the LAGs, in conjunction with Local Development Companies who act as Implementing Partners in most areas, approved a total of 1,405 projects, to the value of €67.7 million. The type of monetary supports provided include capital for construction projects, biodiversity and renewable energy projects, analysis and development type projects as well as marketing and training projects. These projects bring much needed assistance to small businesses at this time, as well as supporting job retention and new employment opportunities.

In line with a commitment in Our Rural Future, I announced details of a €70 million Transitional LEADER Programme, which came into effect from 1 April 2021 and will run to the end of 2022. As part of this announcement, I also approved an increase in the rate of aid for private enterprises and commercial community projects, from a maximum of 50% to a maximum of 75%. LEADER Food Initiative projects approved on or after the 1stApril 2021, which satisfy the conditions, can also be considered for the increased rate of aid by the LAG.

The Transitional Programme will ensure that LEADER will continue to support and revitalise our communities and make them sustainable and desirable places in which to live and work through co-ordinated approaches that build on the economic strengths and infrastructure of rural areas.

Officials from my Department are engaging with stakeholders and are working alongside officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in developing the Ireland's CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 which LEADER will form part of.


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