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Allister comments on draft Rural Development Programme

21 June 2006

Jim Allister MEP has commented on the consultation on the Draft Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (2007-2013).  Jim Allister believes that the two important issues to come out in the consultation are how money will be raised to pay for rural development and how the programme will be delivered on the ground. 

Jim Allister commented, “While there are still a number of decisions to be made regarding how the next Rural Development Programme will be funded, it is clear that there will be a large shortfall in the budget for the 2007-2013 period.  Already DARD has a number of commitments, under axis 2 of the programme, for agri-environmental schemes.  This will leave little additional money in the budget for measures falling under axis 1 of the programme.  If DARD is looking to be rural champions and cater for the needs of the wider rural community, it is vital that the Department gets additional funding under the next Comprehensive Spending Review.  It will not be acceptable for DARD to simply modulate Single Farm Payments in order to raise funds for spending in the wider rural community. 

Jim Allister supports a change in the mechanism for delivering rural development funds.  “DARD has a poor track record of delivering money in the current round of European funding.  It is vital that changes are made to the delivery process that ensures more effective delivery of European funds at ground level.  I do have concern about the timetable regarding the setting up of new structures prior to the commencement of the new Programme in 2007 and how these new structures will complement the changes with local Government due to be introduced in 2010.

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Agriculture and Environment