The West Cork Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) – a Committee of Cork County Council – has been confirmed as the new LEADER Local Action Group (LAG) for West Cork and the programme will officially commence on the 1st December 2016.
The new group – which will be branded “LEADER West Cork” – will manage the allocation of just over € 5 million in LEADER funding across West Cork for the period 2016-2020.
The Mayor of Cork County Council, Cllr. Seamus McGrath, expressed particular delight at the outcome stating that ‘after a lengthy and rigorous competitive bidding process the national LEADER selection committee, overseen by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, has awarded the LEADER contract to the Cork County Council backed bid. This is an endorsement of a LEADER programme of the highest quality that has been prepared for the people of West Cork.’
In addition Cork County Council will provide supplementary Community Development Initiative funding of €1.25m to support the programme which will bring the total funding available to communities in West Cork to just over € 6.25 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 will now be rolled out by a consortium of the West Cork LAG and three local development companies operating in the West Cork Council division namely; Avondhu-Blackwater, SECAD and Comhar na nOileán. 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 Chairman of LEADER West Cork, Mr. Finbarr Harrington also commended the Group, its three implementing partners, and Cork County Council for the fresh and innovative approach that it has developed for the roll-out of LEADER in the region.
Mr Harrington added: “This is a new LEADER programme for West Cork. Whilst the available budget is greatly reduced from previous LEADER programmes, there is now a real sense of 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 LEADER West Cork to issue contracts for available funding as speedily as possible”.
Mr. Harrington said that LEADER provides a real opportunity to invest in local communities in West Cork and that he is looking forward to the successful roll-out of the programme albeit with a reduced budget from previous LEADER programmes.
Mr. Harrington added that the LEADER West Cork Programme will officially launch on the 1st December and will include formal Calls for Expressions of Interest for suitable projects.
Contact details, application forms and all the latest LEADER news for West Cork is available to download on www.leaderwestcork.com