THE new Leader group for West Cork officially commenced business on December 1st.
THE new group - which will be branded as ‘Leader West Cork’ will manage the allocation of just over €5m in funding across West Cork for the period 2016-2020.
In addition, Cork County Council has pledged 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 € 6.25m.
Acknowledging that the available budget is ‘greatly reduced from previous Leader’ programmes, chairman of Leader West Cork, Finbarr Harrington, said there is now ‘a real sense of urgency’ in rolling out the new programme.
He commended the Group, its three implementing partners, and Cork County Council for what he called ‘the fresh and innovative approach’ that it has developed for the roll-out of Leader in the region.
Mr Harrington added that communities had been ‘cut-off’ from Leader funding over recent years, and as a result there was now ‘a pipeline of projects ready to be assessed’.
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.
The Leader programme in West Cork will 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 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. Contact details and application forms are available to download on www.leaderwestcork.com
Meanwhile, the European Commission is probing the awarding of the Leader project by Cork County Council to West Cork Local Community Development Committee (WCDC) over a complaint alleging it received ‘State aid’.
The former administrator of the West Cork Leader scheme, the West Cork Development Partnership (WCDP), which was an unsuccessful applicant in the latest bid to distribute EU Leader funding, lodged the complaint regarding State aid in August.