The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022. €52 million was allocated to the Fund for 2019.
The first call for applications to the Fund closed in September 2018. There was a large response to the first call, with 280 applications received under Categories 1 and 2.
Category 1 related to projects with all necessary planning and other consents in place and which were ready to proceed, while Category 2 projects were those which required further development to become ready for Category 1 status.
On foot of the first call, 38 successful Category 1 projects and 46 Category 2 projects were announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund to support projects worth €117m.
Following the announcement of the successful projects, my Department engaged with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements. Contractual arrangements were also drawn up with the release of funding based on the achievement of key milestones in the projects.
In this regard, significant progress is already being made on the implementation of successful projects. A number of the projects have already reached their first milestone and had funding released. To date, €21.9 million has been drawn down from the Fund by 55 separate projects. This is made up of €18.04 million drawn down for 33 Category 1 projects and €3.8 million for 22 Category 2 projects. I expect that payments from the Fund will continue to accelerate over the coming weeks and months as further milestones are achieved across the other projects.
The second call for Category 1 applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed on 6 August 2019. There was an excellent response from across the country and my Department received 69 applications for funding. I announced the successful projects from the second call on 6 November 2019. 26 projects were approved for funding of €62 million to support projects costing €95 million.
Following the announcement of the successful projects from the second call, my Department is engaging with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements and complete contractual arrangements.