There are 35 Local Action Groups (LAGs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013 throughout the country and these groups are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Departmental operating rules and EU regulations.
The project referred to in the question involved the processing of miscanthus, a species of grass used as a renewable energy source. The production of such grass can be considered for support under a scheme already available in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and it could therefore be considered an agricultural product. My Department, however, is now satisfied that this project relates to the post-harvest processing of the plant and that it can be considered under Axis 3 (non-agricultural elements) of the RDP.
In addition, as this project required funding of over €150,000 it was also required to seek final approval from my Department. The final assessment of the project was completed in the past few days and I have issued approval to Carlow County Development Partnership that it may proceed to approve this project.