Waterford LEADER Partnership has received over €10 million towards investment in rural job-creation and development programmes.

Minister Martin Cullen confirmed the funding, allocated this week by his cabinet colleague Eamon O Cuiv, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

The €10,558,519 made available to Waterford under the Rural Development Programme, 2007-2013 “will be channelled through the new integrated Local Action Groups” – 36 of which are being set up countrywide.

The money will provide for a variety of schemes, including diversification into non-agriculture activities, support for business creation and tourism, basic services, village renewal, conservation projects and training.

A total of €425.4 million will be provided nationally: 55% from the European Union and 45% from the Exchequer. This is almost treble the amount available in the last programme (2000-2006).

Stan Nangle, chairman of Tramore Development Trust, said the amount of funding is a huge boost for local community ventures and would have far-reaching benefits. “In particular I welcome that the community themselves will decide where the money goes.

“Despite the more difficult times we now face, there is an opportunity for rural areas to expand and develop,” he feels. “As our urban centres grow, there is renewed interest in rural activities, especially in recreation and small food production.

“We need to tap into these activities to support indigenous businesses. Walkers, cyclists, and those interested in water activities will benefit from the resources we provide.”

Local Action Groups are made up of various representatives across the community, including council members, the business and farming community, and voluntary organisations. Allocations are evaluated on population, ‘rurality’ and the quality of proposed programmes, with local business plans determining how it’s spent.