€90m in funding is to be allocated to the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. The broad objectives of the LEADER Axes (Axes 3 & 4) of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 are to improve the quality of life in rural areas and to encourage diversification of economic activity in rural areas including supports for non-agricultural activities.
In 2011 the European Commission approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55 percent to 85 percent for the LEADER elements of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme. This resulted in a net reduction in the overall budget, as the actual cash contribution from the Commission will not increase. It was therefore necessary in February 2013 for the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to place an embargo on project approvals as these changes meant that the original project allocations given to each Local Development Company (LDC) required readjustment.
According to the Minister for Local Government, Phil Hogan TD the Department has now completed the rebalancing exercise and I am authorising the issuing of contracts for approximately €42m worth of projects which have all the necessary approvals in place”. Once this is complete, he added “my Department will then be in a position to establish the remaining balance of funding in the Programme and will notify each Local Development Company of their allocation to the end of the Programme. I also want each Company to examine all project applications it has received and to ensure that only the best projects with the highest impact are funded. It is imperative that the best value possible is achieved from every last euro.”