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O’Neill announces plans to maximise potential of Rural Development Programme

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today announced her plans to maximise the potential of the Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 for the remainder of the programme.
Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Minister said: “I want to see a Rural Development Programme that delivers the greatest benefit for everyone living or working in our rural areas. I want to avoid a situation where funds have to be returned to Europe unspent.

“To achieve this objective I intend to maintain the budget of our Axis 3 schemes at £100million and make a further £5million available for the provision of rural broadband. I also intend to make provision of around £5million available for a further round of capital grant funding, subject to us being able to secure the necessary scheme approvals.

“In addition, I propose to pay for the Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowance scheme in 2014 from the current programme budget. I am well aware of the importance of this scheme in the North. My decision will help to provide some stability for the many farmers who depend on these payments as we move towards a revised Areas of Natural Constraint scheme under the next Programme. It will also encourage continuing good management of the environment by retention of established stocking patterns.

“Taken together, I am confident that these plans provide the opportunity to deliver maximum benefit to our rural areas. On the basis of these proposals I look forward to working with the Programme Monitoring Committee, EU Commission and my Executive colleagues to ensure that the potential of the Rural Development Programme is maximised for the industry, the environment and our rural areas.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The NI Rural Development Programme is jointly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
  2. The NIRDP is worth in the region of £500million over the 2007-2013 funding period; however spend for some measures can continue until 2015.
  3. The Programme Monitoring Committee was established by DARD to oversee the implementation of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. The Monitoring Committee includes representation from: economic and social partners, local authorities and non-governmental organisations (including environmental organisations and those responsible for promoting equality). The Monitoring Committee has a role in considering and approving proposals to amend the NIRDP.
  4. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.