Minister Hogan releases €90 million funding under the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and
Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan T.D, today (24 April 2013), announced the
release of €90 million funding for the
LEADER elements
of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

Minister Hogan said “I am pleased to
announce that following a thorough examination of project activity at all stages
in the Local Development Companies that I can now release €90 million funding
for the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme. This funding has the
capacity, not only to facilitate access to sustainable employment opportunities
in rural areas but also to help support sustainable communities and enhance
rural economies for business creation and development into the future.”

In late 2011 the European Commission
approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55% to 85% for the LEADER
elements of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme. While this was indeed
welcome, especially as it reduced the overall contribution of the Exchequer to
the Programme in relative terms, it also meant 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 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.

Minister Hogan said “My Department has now
completed the rebalancing exercise and I am authorising the issuing of contracts
for approximately €42 million worth of projects which have all the necessary
approvals in place”.

In making this announcement the Minister
said ‘I have given two weeks to the Local Development Companies to let my
Department know whether all of these €42m worth of projects are ready to proceed
or not. Once this is complete 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.”