Rural villages and towns in the heart of the scenic Newry, Mourne and Down area could be in line for some big changes after an award of over £11 million!
And broadband provision in the area will also be targeted as part of the investment.
Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen has now launched the Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Programme.
It will deliver direct grant aid to projects in the area across a range of schemes, with the overall aim of stimulating the economy and improving the quality of life for residents.
Speaking as she attended a special launch event in Ballynahinch, Miss McIlveen said: “As Minister with responsibility for rural affairs, I am committed to protecting and enhancing the quality of life for the high proportion of Northern Ireland citizens that live in rural areas.
“My Department, through the Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Partnership, is investing more than £11 million to help stimulate the economy, create employment, improve basic services and promote rural regeneration.
“This in turn will deliver real benefits to people in the area – boosting overall wellbeing, life chances and opportunities.
“This £11 million scheme is part of an overall investment of around £70 million in rural areas across Northern Ireland and is a powerful indicator of the importance the Executive places in stimulating and supporting rural communities.”
Nicholas McCrickard, Chairperson of Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Partnership’s Local Action Group, which will deliver the programme, said he was delighted.
He added: “The Local Action Group members and stakeholders have been instrumental in developing an interim Local Rural Development Strategy to help us to allocate these funds, and I have full confidence that this will guide us towards the delivery of a wide range of projects focused on addressing social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in the area.
“Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership is responsible for the delivery of the programme across the rural areas of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, with specific focus on Rural Business Investment, Basic Services, Village Renewal, Rural Broadband and Co-operation.
“With reference to the Rural Business Investment Scheme only, the LAG were keen to include the towns of Ballynahinch, Kilkeel, Warrenpoint and Newcastle as eligible areas for grant assistance. We would encourage those interested in engaging with the programme to contact the administration unit for more information.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick added: “It is fantastic news that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have secured financial support to deliver Priority 6 of the Rural Development Programme.
“This funding will help improve many aspects of rural dwellers within our district, offering the opportunity to develop projects to address a wide range of social and economic issues. I look forward to seeing the engagement from project promoters across Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and would encourage anyone with a project to contact the LAG Office.”
The Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Partnership will roll out four key schemes which together will lead to the investment of up to £11.18 million of grant aid in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area. These include:
- Rural Business Investment to support for the creation and development of micro and small enterprises (including farm diversification and private tourism businesses) in rural areas.
- Rural Basic Services, to support capital investments which will provide access to basic services or improvements in social infrastructure (including activities to reduce isolation and/or poverty) to improve the welfare and access to basic services of those living in rural areas.
- Village Renewal, which will provide financial support primarily for the drafting of integrated village plans and also for the renewal of rural villages through village plans.
- Rural Broadband, which will provide financial support to fill the gap for rural dwellers who cannot avail of broadband and will help address the very rural ‘not spots’ that are not within the scope of any other government initiatives.
For more information on the support available or to discuss a potential project contact a member of the Rural Development Team at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on 0300 013 2233 or visit the website at http://www.mournegullionlecale.com