The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) is aimed at improving the economic, social and environmental conditions in rural areas throughout Northern Ireland.
It brings together a wide range of support schemes and programmes for the farming, forestry and primary processing sectors, rural enterprise and business development, diversification and rural tourism.
The Rural Development Programme will help to improve the quality of life in rural areas by supporting a wide range of activities. These include diversification into non-agricultural activities, support for business creation, encouragement of tourism activities, village renewal, basic services for rural communities and development and conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage.
The previous Local Action Groups (LAGS) were the delivery mechanism for Axis 3 & 4 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) 2007-2013. The LAGS were comprised of combinations of various Council areas throughout Rural Northern Ireland.
Sperrin Fun & Heritage Farm project @ Glenshane Road, Feeny
Before Image of dilapidated farm complex
After Images of Fun Farm funded as a farm diversification project
Priority 6 funding within the new NIRDP Programme will be delivered by the new action groups which will be formed within the new ‘Super Councils areas’.
Work is underway to establish new Local Action Group (LAGS) in all the Rural Council areas.
The Six Proposed European Union priorities for rural development:
– Knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas, which is described as a cross-cutting or horizontal priority;
– Farm competitiveness and risk management;
– Food chain organisation;
– Restoring and enhancing ecosystems;
– Promoting resource efficiency;
– Social inclusion, poverty reduction and rural economic development.
The main differences from the 2007 – 2013 rural development regulation are;
– The removal of the axis structure to improve the flexibility of the programme;
– A consolidation of existing measures into fewer broader measures;
– An increased focus on knowledge transfer and innovation, co-operation, climate change mitigation and the environment.
Establishment of LAG Boards and Local Development Strategies are expected to be completed in Spring/Summer2015.