The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Seamus McGrath and the Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Mr. Tim Lucey have welcomed the commencement of the LEADER programme across Cork County effective from the 1st December 2016.
Cork County has been allocated just over €13.9m in the new round of LEADER programme funding which will run until 2020. The total figure of €13,938,823 was confirmed by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs from a total national allocation of €250m.
In welcoming the roll out of the LEADER programme, Cllr McGrath commented: "The available budget is greatly reduced from previous LEADER programmes. However there is a sense of real urgency in rolling out the new programme. Communities have been cut-off from LEADER funding over recent years and there is a pipeline of projects ready to be assessed. Communities can be assured of the determination of Cork County Council to issue contracts for available funding as speedily as possible".
In addition Cork County Council will provide a supplementary Community Development Initiative Fund of €3.5m to support the LEADER programme which will bring the total funding available to communities in Cork to € 17.4 million.
Mr. Tim Lucey Chief Executive of Cork County Council also welcomed the commencement of the LEADER programme and commended the elected councillors of Cork County Council for providing additional support to the programme stating “Our elected members listened to the communities of Cork County who were concerned about shortfalls in funding to the LEADER programme and responded by making an additional €3.5m of Council funding available across Cork County. We are one of only a handful of Local authorities across the country that have backed-up the LEADER programme in this way.’”
The LEADER Programme supports local and community projects across a diverse range of themes including; Rural tourism, enterprise development, rural towns, access to broadband, basic services targeted at hard-to-reach communities, rural youth, protection and sustainable use of water resources, protection and improvement of local biodiversity, and development of renewable energy.
The programme is co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The roll-out of the programme will be overseen by three Local Community Development Committees (LCDC) operating in each of Cork County’s three respective divisions. The North, South and West Cork LCDC’s- Committee of Cork County Council - have been confirmed as the new LEADER Local Action Group’s (LAG) for their respective areas of the County.
In North Cork the programme will be implemented on the ground by a consortium of the North Cork LAG and the three incumbent local development companies operating in North Cork namely; Avondhu-Blackwater Partnership, Ballyhoura Development and IRD Duhallow.
In South Cork the programme will be implemented on the ground by a consortium of the South Cork LAG and the four incumbent local development companies operating in South Cork namely Avondhu-Blackwater Partnership, South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD), Údarás na Gaeltachta and IRD Duhallow.
In West Cork the programme will be implemented on the ground by a consortium of the West Cork LAG and three existing local development companies operating in West Cork namely Avondhu-Blackwater Partnership, SECAD and Comhar na nOileán Teo.
The new groups - which will be branded "LEADER North Cork" "LEADER South Cork" and "LEADER West Cork" respectively- will manage the LEADER funding across Cork for the period 2016-2020.
Mr. Lucey added that LEADER provides a real opportunity to invest in local communities in Cork and that he is "looking forward to seeing a continuation of the great work that has been carried out under previous LEADER programmes by the existing Local Development Companies albeit this time around with an overall significantly reduced budget."
It was confirmed that the LEADER Programme will be officially launched in Cork County on the 1stDecember and will include formal Calls for Expressions of Interest for suitable projects.
Contact details, application forms and all the latest LEADER news and are available to view on relevant LEADER websites.