Millions available to communities under rural regeneration fund

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the fund and €315 million has been allocated from 2019 to 2022.

These were the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, during Dáil proceedings last week after he was asked by Fine Gael’s Peter Burke what the status of the fund was and the impact it will have on rural counties like Westmeath.

The minister pointed out that following the conclusion of the first call under the fund in February, a total of 84 successful projects had been announced, with funding of €86 million provided to support projects worth a total of €117 million.

Among the successful projects was the development of a regeneration plan for the core area of Kinnegad.

“This included plans for the development of a public library and educational campus, and a park and community facility in the town centre,” he continued.

“The project received €600,000 in funding.”

Delivery and achievement

Minister Ring went on to say that the successful projects under the first call from the fund were spread across a wide range of sectors – from tourism and enterprise development to heritage protection and community facilities.

The projects are located across the country and I believe that their delivery will achieve significant benefits, not just for the counties but also for the regions.

He added: “I announced the second call for category 1 applications – those with full planning and consents in place – in April 2019, with a closing date for applications at noon on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

“Category 2 applications – relating to projects which need further development to be ready for category 1 status – will be sought later in the year.”

Identify and develop

The minister then pointed to how the fund would last for a total of 10 years.

He then called on all local authorities, state agencies, LEADER action groups and other lead parties in rural communities to identify and develop ambitious projects which, he added, “will deliver significant regeneration and development to their areas”.

“My department will work to ensure the greatest possible impacts are realised with the support provided by the fund in the years ahead,” Minister Ring concluded.