Thursday, 11 July 2019

Ceisteanna (19)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

19. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of progress on the roll-out of the new LEADER programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30221/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The current LEADER programme effectively became operational in the second half of 2016, following the signing of Funding Agreements with most of the Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver the programme. Projects must be selected under the programme by the end of 2020, while payments will continue in 2021 and later years as necessary.

We are now making significant progress in the delivery of the LEADER programme. 2,135 project applications have been approved by the LAGs for funding of over €75.8 million. A further 383 projects seeking funding of €27.6 million are at earlier stages of the approvals process.

In addition, almost 100 projects have been approved at national level, outside of the core budget available to the LAGs, for Food and Co-operation projects.

The level of progress on the LEADER programme varies between each Local Action Group. However, on average, the LAGs have indicated that over 80% of their available project budget will be allocated by the end of 2019. This will place the LAGs in a strong position to allocate the full amount of funding available before the end of 2020.

Indeed, there is a growing demand for more LEADER funding to be made available in some areas. In this regard, I was very pleased to announce earlier this week that an additional €5 million will be shared between the LAGs that are most advanced in delivering the LEADER programme. This is further evidence of the huge progress made since my Department introduced a range of administrative improvements to the programme in 2017 and 2018.