Rural funding boost for entrepreneurs

The LEADER rate of aid generally available to entrepreneurs in the Rural Development Programme is being increased from 50% to 75%.

This change will help to address difficulty in accessing credit, said Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

He anticipated a significant increase in project commitments as a result of this change.

He also announced reassignment of an extra €10m to the basic services measure of the RDP.

“This measure has seen a very high level of demand to date and all indications are that there are still a large number of potential projects eligible under this measure that will be facilitated with this programme change,” said Mr Hogan.

Local authorities will now be permitted to apply directly to the RDP for funding, working in co-operation with community groups.

Local authorities can apply for the community rate of aid of 75%, for the village renewal and conservation measures of the programme.

“With an annual budget of €96m 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,” said Mr Hogan.

In March he also announced a €5m RDP fund to support agri-food projects, primarily processing of artisan foods, formerly supported under Axis 3 of the RDP.

The RDP changes are effective immediately, but are still subject to final approval from the European Commission.

Contact details for all local development companies contracted to deliver the RDP are on the www.environ.ie website.


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