LEADER+ PROGRAMME by wuyunyi

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									    LEADER+ PROGRAMME


      NORTHERN IRELAND


               2001 - 2006




Department of Agriculture and Rural
Development
October 2001




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                                   CONTENTS

                                                                         Page

Executive Summary                                                          5

Chapter 1   Eligible Area                                                 15

Chapter 2   Analysis of the Situation in Rural Areas                      17
                   Analysis of Previous Operations                         17
                   Analysis of the Socio-Economic Situation in Rural       30
                    Areas
                   SWOT Analysis                                           46

Chapter 3   Ex-Ante Evaluation                                            49

Chapter 4   Objectives of LEADER+ in Northern Ireland                     63
                   Vision and Overall Aim of the Department of             63
                    Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural
                    Development Programme for 2000-2006
                   Objective of the Northern Ireland LEADER+               64
                    Programme
                   Strategy to Achieve the Objective                       66
                   Links with Other Rural Development Programmes           67
                   The Policy Context                                      76
                   Relationship with Mainstream Programmes                 80

Chapter 5   Actions of LEADER+ in Northern Ireland                        95
                   Action 1: Territorial Rural Development Strategies      95
                   Action 2: Co-operation                                 106
                   Action 3: Networking                                   112

Chapter 6   Financial Plan                                               117

Chapter 7   Criteria and Procedures for the Selection of Local           121
            Action Groups
                   Criteria for Selection                                 121
               Application and Selection Procedures                      126
Chapter 8   Information and Publicity Arrangements                       133




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Chapter 9    Implementation, Management and Monitoring            135
             Arrangements
                                                                    135
                 General
                                                                    135
                 Management
                                                                    137
                 Financial Implementation
                                                                    142
                 Financial Management
                                                                    144
                 Financial Control and Financial Corrections
                                                                    147
                 Monitoring

Chapter 10   Administrative Provisions                            153
                                                                   153
                 The Programme Complement
                                                                    154
                 Procedures for the Amendment of the Programme

Chapter 11   Provisions for Evaluation                            157
                 General Provisions                                157
                 Framework for Evaluation                          158
                 Indicators for Evaluation                         159

Chapter 12   Consultation Arrangements                            167

Chapter 13   Compatibility with Other Community Policies          169
             Conformity with State Aid Rules                      173

ANNEXES

                                                                  Page

Annex 1      List of Consultees                                   175

Annex 2      Summary and Analysis of Consultation Responses       183

Annex 3      Summary of ‘Mini Business Plans’                     205

Annex 4      Analysis of Equality Considerations                  213

Annex 5      Detailed Map of Eligible Area                        221

Annex 6      Description of the Environment                       227




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                            EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Eligible Area

For the purposes of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme, rural areas are defined
as all parts of Northern Ireland outside the Belfast Metropolitan Area, the city of
Derry/Londonderry and towns with populations greater than 5,000.




However, the LEADER+ Programme will retain the flexibility to support projects
located in more urban settings in cases where the projects will benefit rural areas and it
makes sense that they should be located in a town.

A detailed map showing eligible area and other relevant information is attached at
Annex 5.

Objective

The objective for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be:

    To increase the economic and employment contribution that very small businesses,
    including small farms, make to the rural economy by encouraging local
    partnerships to test out new approaches to micro-business development and, where
    beneficial, to work in collaboration with similar partnerships in other rural areas.




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This objective reflects the distinctive contribution that LEADER+ can make to rural
development in Northern Ireland, through its focus on very small businesses, while at
the same time recognising the importance at a European level of its delivery by local
partnerships and the concepts of co-operation, and LEADER’s role as a laboratory for
rural development.

The Actions of LEADER+ in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will have 3 actions:

     Action 1 – Territorial Rural Development Strategies

     Action 2 – Co-operation

     Action 3 – Networking


Action 1 – Territorial Rural Development Strategies

The aim of Action 1 will be to support the economic development of Northern Ireland’s
rural areas. It will encourage locally based partnerships (covering relatively small
geographical areas and made up of representatives of the local public, private and
voluntary sectors) to think about the development needs and opportunities of the small
business sector, including small farms, in their areas. It will also provide funding for
those partnerships to implement integrated development strategies that will take a global
approach to addressing the needs and potential that they have identified in their areas in
new and original ways.

Local Action Groups will be required to develop their strategies around one or more of
the following priority themes:

     The use of new know-how and new technologies to make the products and
      services of rural areas more competitive

     Improving the quality of life in rural areas

     Adding value to the local products, in particular by facilitating access to markets
      for small production units via collective actions

     Making the best use of natural and cultural resources, including enhancing the
      value of sites of Community interest selected under NATURA 2000.

In Northern Ireland, all of these themes must be delivered with a focus on micro-
business development and job creation. A micro-business is defined as any private
sector business, including a farm, with fewer than 10 employees, and may involve either
full-time or part-time employment.




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To increase the impact that LEADER+ makes on economic and social conditions in
Northern Ireland’s rural areas, Local Action Groups will be encouraged to identify,
target and work proactively with the communities and social groups in their areas that
exhibit the greatest levels of need and disadvantage. In particular, the LEADER+
Programme will focus on the following target groups:

     Women

     Young people

     Farmers and farm families

     The long-term unemployed

In order to further the experimentation started under LEADER and LEADER II and to
maintain the Initiative’s role as a kind of ‘laboratory’ for rural development, Local
Action Groups in Northern Ireland will be encouraged to look for new, original and
ambitious ways of pursuing their own objectives and the aims of the Northern Ireland
LEADER+ Programme.

Local Action Groups will be encouraged to form close working relationships with and
draw on the expertise of other agencies and bodies active in the business development
field, particularly the Local Enterprise Agencies, the Local Enterprise Development
Unit and the Economic Development Offices of District Councils.

Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland will be encouraged to develop co-operation
projects with each other, with other locally based partnership bodies in Northern Ireland
and with Local Action Groups in other EU regions.

Local Action Groups will be required to take full account of the need to promote
equality of opportunity in all of their activities.

It is not possible to provide a definitive list of the activities that will be supported by
Action 1 until Local Action Groups have submitted their development strategies. Any
attempt to be prescriptive at this stage would undermine the ‘bottom up’ nature of the
LEADER Initiative. However, it is expected that the broad categories of activity that
may be covered will include:

     Administration costs of Local Action. This will include the costs of setting up the
      Local Action Group, publicity, and studies prior to launch of the development
      strategy if a Local Action Group has not benefited from LEADER II.

     Training, particularly the training of the staff and Board members of Local Action
      Groups, project promoters and particular sections of the rural population.
      Training activities supported under LEADER+ will complement those supported
      by the ESF.




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     Technical support for rural enterprises, including advice and assistance for rural
      enterprises to help new businesses become established and assist existing small
      rural businesses to consolidate and expand.

     The promotion of local products - subject to the provisions of EC Regulation
      2826/2000, Action 1 will provide support for the development and promotion of
      products characteristic of the local area.

     The use of new technology in small rural businesses, including support for
      researching, testing and commercialising new technologies in small businesses.

     Activities that create or develop infrastructure to assist the growth of very small
      businesses in rural areas.

     Environmental goods and services and environmentally sensitive processes.


Action 2 – Co-operation

Support from Action 2 will be made available to Local Action Groups that wish to co-
operate on joint projects to assist them in achieving the objectives set out in their
development strategies. The aim of Action 2 will be to encourage effective co-
operation between rural areas in order to:

(a)   achieve the necessary critical mass for a project to be viable;

(b)   encourage Local Action Groups to undertake complementary actions; and

(c)   add value to a project through the bringing together of complementary skills,
      know-how, products and/or measures.

Support from Action 2 of LEADER+ will only be granted to Local Action Groups that
are funded through Action 1.

Co-operation can be either:

(a)   inter-territorial co-operation – that is, co-operation between two or more Local
      Action Groups in Northern Ireland or between Local Action Groups in Northern
      Ireland and Local Action Groups in other parts of the United Kingdom; and

(b)   transnational co-operation – that is, co-operation between Local Action Groups in
      Northern Ireland and rural areas in other member States of the European Union.

In recognition of fact that the rural areas of Northern Ireland and the rural areas of the
Republic of Ireland experience many of the same issues, needs and opportunities and of
the significance attached to North-South co-operation in the Belfast Agreement, special
provision and arrangements will be put in place in both the Northern Ireland LEADER+
Programme and the Ireland LEADER+ Programme to promote co-operation between



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rural areas in the two parts of Ireland. A specific allocation of funding from Action 2 of
the LEADER+ Programmes in Northern Ireland and Ireland will be set aside
specifically to support North-South co-operation projects. This funding will be
managed by the Cross-Border Steering Committee on Rural Development,


Action 3: Networking

The aim of Action 3 will be to deepen the developing knowledge on rural development
by supporting actions to explore, understand and evaluate the lessons gained from the
implementation of LEADER+. Support will be provided for the networking of all rural
areas, whether funded by LEADER+ or not, and of all organisations involved in rural
development.

A single networking organisation will be established at UK level, but this organisation
will also offer fully integrated networking capacity at the level of Northern Ireland,
England, Wales and Scotland targeted at the particular needs of those countries. The
full integration of the different levels of networking will avoid duplication of effort by
the networks operating in the different countries of the UK and will provide the most
efficient and cost-effective network to fulfil the networking role.

All LEADER+ Local Action Groups supported under Action 1 will be required to
participate actively in the network. In addition, to secure the wider role envisaged for
the network in facilitating rural development more generally, all rural areas, whether or
not selected under LEADER+, will be encouraged to participate in the network.

North-South Networking – The close links between the rural areas of Northern Ireland
and the rural areas of the Republic of Ireland and the institutional arrangements for
cross-border co-operation between the two jurisdictions mean that there is an
opportunity to build on the networking links established between Local Action Groups
on both sides of the border under LEADER II. The Local Action Groups in Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be encouraged to develop closer networking
links and arrange more regular meetings to facilitate networking on a cross-border basis.
Among the ways that this could be achieved is making greater use of information
technology and establishing a link between the websites of the networking bodies on
either side of the border.

East-West Networking – In addition to the provisions on North-South relations, the
Belfast Agreement also contained an East-West strand ‘to promote the harmonious and
mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of
these islands’. There are a many similarities between the rural areas of England,
Scotland, Wales and both parts of Ireland. Therefore, closer links and more regular
contact between the Irish LEADER Network and the UK Leader Network will be
encouraged. As Northern Ireland is part of both the United Kingdom and the island of
Ireland, it will have a significant role to play in this.




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Financing

The EU contribution to the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme accounts for
13.68% of the total EAGGF allocation to LEADER+ for the United Kingdom. The
total sterling value of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be £20 million
(30.834 meuro).

The authorities in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales have agreed that £2
million (3.10 meuro) will be set aside to cover the costs of Networking across the
United Kingdom. This will cover the costs of the national network and provision of
fully integrated networking capacity at the level of Northern Ireland, England, Scotland
and Wales. The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will contribute 13.68% of the
costs of networking for the United Kingdom.

1% of the costs of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be reserved for
programme management, monitoring and evaluation.

The percentages of the funding available for the Northern Ireland LEADER+
Programme to be allocated to each Priority are as follows:

     Action 1: Territorial Rural Development Strategies         86%

     Action 2: Co-operation                                     11%

     Action 3: Networking                                        2%

     Programme management, monitoring and evaluation             1%

The division of the allocation for Action 2 between inter-territorial co-operation, co-
operation with the Republic of Ireland and trans-national co-operation will be agreed by
the Monitoring Committee.


Selection of Local Action Groups

The European Commission’s guidelines on LEADER+ require funding to be targeted at
the most promising strategies in order to extract the maximum benefit from the
available resources. As a result, Local Action Groups will be selected through a
competitive selection process.

The basic eligibility criteria are as follows:

1.    Only Local Action Groups may be supported

2.    All rural areas of Northern Ireland will be eligible for inclusion in a LEADER+
      Local Action Group.




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3.    The area covered by a Local Action Group must be of a small size.

4.    The area covered by a Local Action Group must:
      (a)   form an homogenous unit in physical, economic and social terms;
      (b)   be coherent; and
      (c)   have sufficient critical mass in terms of human, financial and economic
            resources to support a viable rural development strategy.
      Artificial divisions of areas that could undermine this coherence will be rejected.

5.    The population of the area covered by a Local Action Group should not be less
      than 10,000 or greater than 100,000.

6.    The boundaries of the areas covered by Local Action Groups do not have to
      coincide with established administrative boundaries.

7.    The members of the Local Action Group must be locally based.

8.    The membership of the Local Action Group must consist of a balanced and
      representative selection of partners drawn from different socio-economic sectors.

9.    At the decision making level of the group, the economic and social partners and
      associations must make up at least 50% of the partnership.

10.   The members of the Local Action Group must either:
      (a)   Select an administrative and financial leader with the ability to administer
            public funds who will be responsible for the satisfactory operation of the
            partnership; or
      (b)   Come together in a legally constituted common structure, the statutes of
            which guarantee the satisfactory operation of the partnership and the ability
            to administer public funds.

11.   The development strategy drawn up by the Local Action Group must be based
      around at least one of the central themes.

12.   The area covered by the Local Action Group must not overlap with the area
      covered by another Local Action Group.

13.   Local Action Groups must provide a written commitment to actively involve
      themselves in co-operation and networking activities at the Northern Ireland,
      United Kingdom, island of Ireland and European Union levels.

Eligible applications will be judged against the selection criteria summarised in the table
overleaf.




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                                     Criteria                                      Weight
 1.    The extent to which the development strategy will actively enhance            20
       the job opportunities for and/or activities of women, young people,
       farm families and the long-term unemployed in rural areas.
 2.    The extent of the ‘pilot nature’ of the development strategy.                 15
 3.    The extent to which the development strategy is integrated and adopts         15
       a global approach based on the interaction between actors, sectors
       and projects and unites all the actors and projects in the various fields
       contributing to the development strategy.
 4.    The extent to which the strategy is coherent with the territory,              15
       particularly in socio-economic terms.
 5.    The economic viability of the development strategy.                           10
 6.    The sustainability of the development strategy.                               15
 7.    The degree of transferability of the strategy and the methods                 15
       proposed by the Local Action Group.
 8.    The complementarity of the development strategy with ‘mainstream’             15
       programmes.
 9     The ability of the members of the Local Action Group to devise and            15
       implement a development strategy for their area.
 10.   The relevance and effectiveness of the partnership.                           10
 11.   The extent of the anticipated impact of the development strategy in           25
       the rural area that it relates to, particularly the impact on creating,
       sustaining and retaining jobs in the area.
 12.   The extent to which the strategy will facilitate the participation of all     10
       sectors of the rural population in the planning, management and
       delivery of LEADER+.
 13.   The extent to which the strategy will target disadvantage and the             10
       needs of disadvantaged or marginalised groups in the area that it
       covers.
 14.   The extent to which equal opportunities and wider equality issues             10
       have been taken into account in the development strategy.

Applications will be assessed by a 10 member assessment panel made up of
representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Equality
Commission, the Local Enterprise Development Unit, the rural community and two
independent members selected for their knowledge of rural areas.




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90% of the funding available for Action 1 will be allocated to successful Local Action
Groups when they are selected. 10% of the funding will be held back for allocation
after the mid-term evaluation to areas where the take up of the funding is high.


The initial funding allocation to successful Local Action Groups will be decided by
reference
(a)   to the weighted scores achieved by the successful Groups in the selection process
      (which will account for 60% of the initial funding allocation);
(b)   the geographic size of the successful Groups (which will account for 20% of the
      funding allocation); and
(c)   the population of the successful Groups (which will account for the remaining
      20% of the funding allocation).


Publicity and Information

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will be responsible for ensuring
adequate publicity for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme. The information
and publicity measures put in place will be presented in a communication plan, which
will clearly set out the aims and target groups, the content and strategy of the measures
and an indicative budget.


Programme Implementation, Management and Monitoring

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will be the Managing Authority
for the LEADER+ Programme. In carrying out this function, the Department will work
in close liaison with the Special EU Programmes Body set up under the Belfast
Agreement. It is the Department’s role to ensure the efficient and correct management
and implementation of the Programme.

Monitoring will be carried out by the Managing Authority, assisted by the LEADER+
Monitoring Committee. This monitoring will ensure the quality and effectiveness of
implementation by assessing progress towards achievement of the financial, physical
and impact indicators of the Programme.

A Monitoring Committee will be set up no more than three months after the Programme
has been approved. The Monitoring Committee will meet, as a general rule, at least
twice every year, or more often if necessary.

The Committee will be chaired by the Head of Rural Development Policy with the
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Permanent Members will include
representatives of: the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; local
authorities; the agriculture sector; the environment sector; the Equality Commission;
and members of the business, trade unions, community and voluntary sectors with an
interest in rural development. The participation of these different sectors shall be



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balanced. Particular effort will also be made to promote the balanced participation of
women and men. A representative of the European Commission shall participate in the
work of the Monitoring Committee in an advisory capacity.


The Monitoring Committee shall be assisted by a permanent secretariat, provided by
Rural Development Division of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,
which will be responsible for the preparation of documentation relating to monitoring,
reports, agendas and summary records of meetings.

In order to be appropriately informed on specific issues, the Monitoring Committee may
be assisted by a number of working groups, which will report directly to the Monitoring
Committee, having first considered the existence of CSF Monitoring Committee
Working Groups.

An annual implementation report will be submitted to the European Commission within
six months of the end of each calendar year. The reports will be prepared by the
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and agreed by the Monitoring
Committee.


Evaluation

Mid-term and final evaluations of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be
carried out by an independent assessor, submitted to the LEADER+ Monitoring
Committee and sent to the Commission.

The mid-term evaluation will be completed no later than 31 December 2003, with a
view to re-examining the programme and, if necessary, adapting it.

The final evaluation will cover the utilisation of resources and the effectiveness and
efficiency of the programme and its impact and it will draw conclusions regarding
policy on economic and social cohesion. It will cover the factors contributing to the
success or failure of implementation and the achievements and results, including their
sustainability. It will be completed not later than three years after the end of the
programming period.




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                                       CHAPTER 1

                                    ELIGIBLE AREA

1.1   The definition of ‘rural’ areas in Northern Ireland takes into account the areas that
      could be targeted by urban regeneration programmes, including the URBAN
      initiative, in order that overlap and confusion between the programmes is avoided.

1.2   For the purposes of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme, rural areas are
      defined as all parts of Northern Ireland outside the Belfast Metropolitan Area, the
      city of Derry/Londonderry and towns with populations greater than 5,0002. A
      map of the rural area is shown in Figure 1.

         Figure 1: Eligible area for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme




1.3   However, the LEADER+ Programme will retain the flexibility to support projects
      located in more urban settings in cases where the projects will benefit rural areas
      and it makes sense that they should be located in a town.

A detailed map showing eligible area and other relevant information is attached at
Annex 5.

2
 Towns with populations greater than 5,000 are: Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge,
Bangor, Coleraine, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Larne, Limavady, Lurgan,
Magherafelt, Newry, Newtownards, Omagh, Portadown and Strabane. Source:



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                                    CHAPTER 2

          ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION IN RURAL AREAS

Introduction

2.1 This Chapter presents an analysis of the situation in Northern Ireland’s rural areas.
    There are three elements to this analysis:

          An analysis of previous operations, including LEADER I, LEADER II and
           other programmes delivered according to the LEADER model;

          A socio-economic analysis of Northern Ireland’s rural areas; and

          An analysis of the key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
           facing rural Northern Ireland (SWOT analysis).


ANALYSIS OF PREVIOUS OPERATIONS


LEADER I

2.2   The first LEADER Initiative was announced by the European Commission in
      March 1991. It was the European Union’s response to the debate on how the
      problems of rural areas should be handled that followed the publication of ‘The
      Future of Rural Society’ in 1988. The objective of LEADER I was to find
      innovative solutions to rural problems which would serve as a model for all of
      Europe’s rural areas. The funding was to be delivered by Local Action Groups
      made up of people who play a key role in local society and the local economy.

2.3   1991 was also the year in which the Rural Development Programme was
      established in Northern Ireland. Because rural development was still a very new
      concept in Northern Ireland and the amount of time available for the introduction
      and implementation of LEADER was very short, only one Local Action Group
      was established to cover the whole of the Province. This role was undertaken by
      the then newly established Rural Development Council. Although it covered an
      area significantly larger than that originally envisaged by the European
      Commission, the Commission accepted that, because of the integration into
      government policy and high profile of rural development in Northern Ireland, one
      Province-wide Local Action Group was within the spirit of the LEADER
      Initiative.


2.4   The Northern Ireland Programme was approved by the European Commission on
      6 December 1991. By the final date for new commitments, funding had been



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              committed to 15 projects. There was a clear emphasis towards a small number of
              well funded projects, with 8 projects receiving more than £200,000 (310,000
              meuros). The commitments are set out in Table 1.

              Table 1: Commitments to LEADER I Projects in Northern Ireland
                                                                             LEADER          LEADER
                  Group                           Project Title            Contribution     Contribution
                                                                            (£ Sterling)     (meuros)
Mid Ulster Enterprises                   Creggan Rural Regeneration             673,700           1,044,235
South West Fermanagh Development
                                         Teemore Community Builders              58,000             89,900
Organisation
The Seeconnell Initiative                The Seeconnell Initiative              852,000           1,320,600
Workspace (Draperstown) Ltd              The Rural College                      534,889            829,078
Eskra Development Association            Acorn Tree Nursery                      52,416             81,245
Kinturk Cultural Association             Kinturk Cultural Centre                214,409            332,334
Glenelly Development Trust               Glenelly Holiday Cottages              285,457            442,459
Irvinestown Trustee Enterprise Group     Terracotta Tiles                        36,000             55,800
Glens of Antrim Rural and Community
                                         Antrim Glens Cottages                  200,092            310,143
Development Association
Ardglass and District Development
                                         Ardglass Boat Park                     509,675            789,997
Association
Fermanagh Rural Community Tourism        Lakeland Country Breaks                 51,345             79,585
Tyrone West Group                        Machinery Ring                         105,719            163,865
Omagh Forum for Rural Associations       Walking in the Community                52,000             80,600
South West Fermanagh Development
                                         Rural Tourism Project                  176,010            272,816
Organisation
Kilrea Enterprise Group                  Kilrea Fishing Lodge                   397,100            615,505
Total                                                                         4,198,812           6,508,162


        2.5   The final evaluation of LEADER was produced in 1995. The evaluators found:

                  there was support for a shift towards providing support for a larger number
                   of projects with less funding;

                  there was an impression that LEADER had not been well advertised and
                   existing organisations with a history of development activity had been better
                   placed to access the funding;

                  limiting funding to community groups was restrictive and consideration
                   should be given to individuals with feasible projects. In particular, it was
                   noted that farmers appeared to be reluctant to become involved in the
                   programme and there was generally little private sector involvement in
                   projects;




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          female participation was not seen by projects as being a priority and this
           was reflected in under-representation of women on the management boards
           of projects;

          greater policy co-ordination between Government Agencies was required
           and local Councils should have greater involvement in future programmes.

2.6   The evaluators found that the projects, being mainly capital projects, did not have
      the potential for large scale job creation. Total numbers of jobs created, as
      reported in 1996, stands at 61 full time, 51 part time and 41 casual or seasonal.

2.7   The evaluators recommended that there should be:

          a larger number of Local Action Groups, each covering a smaller area;

          greater flexibility in the nature of the projects supported; and

          increased concentration on capacity building processes.

2.8   All of these recommendations were incorporated into the Northern Ireland
      LEADER II Programme.


LEADER II

2.9   Following the success of the LEADER Programme throughout Europe, the
      European Commission decided to implement a further rural development initiative
      called LEADER II to complement the 1994 to 1999 Structural Funds round.
      LEADER II had four main measures:

      A.   Acquisition of skills, to initiate the local development process where it had
           not existed before. This could include, among other things, training
           personnel, drawing up a strategy and analysing the area’s needs.

      B.   Rural Innovation Programmes, programmes of local action, to include
           three main features: innovation; ability to serve as a model; and
           transferability. Groups were expected to demonstrate that their Operational
           Plans were different from, but complementary to, the main Structural Funds
           measures in the Northern Ireland Single Programme.

      C.   Transnational Co-operation, joint design, production and marketing of
           goods and services undertaken between two or more Member States.

      D.   Networking, to exchange of experience, achievements and know how
           between bodies involved in rural development. This would include
           mandatory participation in the Europe wide ‘European Observatory of Rural
           Innovation and Development.’




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2.10 LEADER II could be delivered by two types of organisation. These were:

     (a)   Local Action Groups – partnerships, based in clearly defined rural areas and
           made up of representatives of the public and private sectors, which devise
           and implement rural development strategies for their areas; and

     (b)   Other Collective Bodies – organisations, acting individually or in
           partnership with other bodies, which develop and implement sectorally
           based projects with benefits for rural development.

2.11 LEADER II was designed to be as decentralised as possible, with significant
     autonomy given to the groups implementing the Initiative. The Northern Ireland
     LEADER II Programme envisaged up to 12 Local Action Groups and up to six
     Other Collective Bodies.

2.12 In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Single Programming Document 1994 to
     1999 set out the Province’s intentions with regard the Structural Funds. The plan
     included measures specifically to deal with Northern Ireland’s most deprived rural
     areas. LEADER II was intended to complement these measures by extending the
     coverage of rural development funding to all of Northern Ireland’s rural areas.

2.13 In Northern Ireland, the major changes between LEADER and LEADER II
     followed the recommendations of the final evaluation.

          The Rural Development Council ceased to act as the only Local Action
           Group in Northern Ireland. Its role was taken over by a larger number of
           groups based on smaller geographic areas and the Other Collective Bodies.

          Support was no longer limited to community based projects. Local Action
           Groups could support projects developed by individuals and private sector
           companies as well as community groups.

          Measure A (acquisition of skills) was used to build the capacity of the Local
           Action Groups before they took on the implementation of a major strategy
           for their area. This support was particularly made available to those
           LEADER groups which were based in areas of Northern Ireland which had,
           at that time, low levels of rural development activity.

2.14 Northern Ireland’s allocation of funds was 12,783,514 Euros, towards total
     expenditure of 37,601,000 Euros. Twenty-four groups were established in total,
     15 LAGs and 9 OCBs, over two rounds of applications. Seven of the groups
     accepted in the second round had benefited from an allocation of funds from the
     Capacity Building measure.

2.15 The Programme was vastly oversubscribed; the total amount allocated was only
     26.91% of the total value of the bids originally submitted.




                                                                                      21
    2.16 The LEADER groups that were established and their allocations are set out in
         Table 2.

           Table 2: Allocations to LEADER II Groups in Northern Ireland

                                         Total LEADER II Allocation (£    Total LEADER II Allocation
GROUP
                                         Sterling, except where stated)           (meuros)
          Local Action Groups
Craigavon Rural Development Ltd                          600,000.00                       930,000
Fermanagh Local Action Group                             850,000.00                     1,317,500
Magherafelt Area Partnership                             800,000.00                     1,240,000
North Antrim LEADER Ltd                                  800,000.00                     1,240,000
Rural Area Partnership in Derry                          799,000.00                     1,238,450
South Down / South Armagh LAG                          1,000,000.00                     1,550,000
South Tyrone Area Partnership                            800,000.00                     1,240,000
West Tyrone Rural 2000 Ltd                             1,000,000.00                     1,550,000
Armagh District Local Action Group              (Euros) 1,000,000
Canal Corridor Partnership                       (Euros) 312,500
C.O.L.L.A.G.E.                                           800,000.00                     1,240,000
Cookstown LEADER Ltd                                     650,000.00                     1,007,500
Lower Bann Local Action Group                            650,000.00                     1,007,500
Roe Valley LEADER Group                          (Euros) 812,500
Rural Down Partnership                                   600,000.00                       930,000
         Other Collective Bodies
Developing Rural Enterprise                              646,827.00                     1,002,582
Family Farm Development                                  900,000.00                     1,395,000
NI Horse Board Co-operative                               56,800.00                        88,040
Project Information Management System                    213,704.00                       331,242
Rural Innovation Research Partnership            (Euros) 577,060
Rural Cottage Holidays                                   200,000.00                       310,000
Rural Development Services                               250,000.00                       387,500
SEDIRA                                                   415,000.00                       643,250
Ulster Beekeepers’ Association                            51,300.00                        79,515


    2.17 The composition of the Groups’ Boards of Directors was not prescribed, but they
         were expected to comprise a combination of public and private sector partners. In
         practice, most have representatives from local Councils, farming unions and the
         business sector. Some also have DARD representation. Female representation on
         Boards stood at 18% at June 1999.




    22
2.18 Group Managers are employed by the Groups’ Boards of Directors.
     Administration costs are funded to a maximum of 80% LEADER contribution
     with a minimum of 20% contribution from other sources. At the start of the
     Programme, groups were able to commit up to 10% of their allocations to
     administration costs but this was later extended to 15%, or, in exceptional
     circumstances, over 15%.

2.19 A key requirement of the LEADER approach is that experiences and ideas
     generated by the participants are shared throughout the EU. To this end, the
     Northern Ireland LEADER Network, comprising representatives of all LEADER
     groups, meets on a monthly basis to co-ordinate actions and exchange ideas
     within the Northern Ireland Programme.

2.20 On a national level, the UK LEADER II Network (UKLN) is administered by
     London based consultants Local and Regional Development Planning Ltd
     (LRDP). LRDP operates the Network in association with the Rural Forum
     Scotland, Wales Rural Forum, Action with Communities in Rural England and, in
     Northern Ireland, the Rural Community Network. The UKLN is jointly funded by
     the European Commission, the Rural Development Commission, DARD, the
     Welsh Office and the Scottish Office.

2.21 A Monitoring Committee comprising representatives from the European
     Commission, DARD, the Rural Development Council and others was established
     to oversee the Initiative and to allow for continuous assessment and improvement.
     Representation from the Local Action Groups, through the Northern Ireland
     LEADER Network, was included in the Committee in 1997.

2.22 In addition to scrutiny by the Monitoring Committee and the mid term review,
     DGXX auditors and the Department’s internal auditors have both carried out
     routine inspections of the Northern Ireland LEADER Programme.


Mid Term Evaluation of LEADER II

2.23 The mid term review was completed in September 1997. The evaluators
     considered that it was too early in the Programme to report progress against
     impact indicators, but they did note a number of general issues.

          There was significant variation in the progress reported by groups in the
           early stages. This was caused in part by the need for some groups to scale
           budgets down due to smaller than expected allocations and, in some cases,
           delays were caused by the fact that groups integrated other programmes
           (District Partnerships in particular) into their operations.

          There was considerable variation in groups’ structure and decision making
           processes.




                                                                                    23
         Groups were concerned about the amount of bureaucracy involved in the
          economic appraisal process and there was concern that general procedures
          were too slow and cumbersome for handling small grants.

         Networking was recognised as important, but other work pressures had
          prevented its development.

         Public awareness of the Programme had been high initially, but had fallen
          back, partly because of the high profile of the SSPPR. In addition, the time
          delay between the public consultation exercises being carried out and the
          groups’ launches had created difficulties in maintaining enthusiasm.

         There was confusion about the roles played by District Partnerships, LAGs,
          OCBs and ABSAGs.

2.24 The mid term evaluators made the following recommendations:

         The training needs of LAG and OCB managers should be assessed.

         The 10% limit on administration costs should be reviewed to facilitate the
          proper administration of the programme.

         All LAGs and OCBs should liaise through the NILN to ensure the transfer
          of existing best practice.

         DANI and the NILN should review project self-evaluation systems.

         An effort should be made to promote awareness of LAGs and OCBs and
          their role in relation to other initiatives. Information on LEADER II should
          be communicated to other agencies to ensure that applicants are directed to
          the most appropriate agency.

         LAGs and OCBs should hold seminars to disseminate information
          throughout Europe.

         LAGs and OCBs should consider co-funding options with other
          programmes (within EC guidelines).

         Capacity Building activity should be considered in a number of areas to
          raise local skill and attitude levels.

         Local networks should be established to co-ordinate the activities of all
          funding bodies, including ABSAGs, District Partnerships, Economic
          Development Officers etc.

         National and Transnational activity should be encouraged.

2.25 These recommendations were addressed either by formal recommendations by the
     LEADER II Monitoring Committee or, particularly in the case of the networking



24
      recommendations, by the LAGs and OCBs themselves in conjunction with the
      Northern Ireland LEADER Network, the UK LEADER Network and the
      European Observatory, (AEIDL).


European Court of Auditors Report on LEADER II in Northern Ireland

2.26 The European Court of Auditors visited Northern Ireland in 1998. The auditors
     concluded that the LEADER II Programme in Northern Ireland was well
     administered and controlled. They made a number of recommendations
     concerning the administration procedures employed by LAGs, OCBs and the
     Department and recommended action on potential problems arising from the
     combination of assistance from more than one structural fund or more than one
     Programme. These problems were all addressed over the following year.


Regular Monitoring of LEADER II

2.27 Quarterly Progress Reports indicate that the Programme has proven to be a great
     success. By 31 December 1999, over 2000 projects had been funded. 781 of
     these involved grants of less than £1,000 (1550 meuros); over 1800 were of
     £10,000 (15,500 Meuro) or less. 45% of all projects were under the Exploitation
     of Local Products theme and around 12% of all projects were farm diversification
     projects. Over 750 new tourist beds and over 200 new businesses were created.
     534 full time equivalent jobs were created and 529 existing jobs sustained by the
     Programme.3

2.28 Networking and Transnational co-operation budgets do not appear to have
     generated the expected amount of project activity. However, many informal links
     have been created and there is evidence of considerable exchange of ideas
     throughout the EU and, to a lesser extent, with the United States.


Area Based Strategies

2.29 Drawing on the success of the first LEADER programme, the Northern Ireland
     Single Programming Document 1994-1999 included measures to assist rural
     development as part of the ‘Sub-Programme for Agriculture and Rural
     Development’ (SPARD). Measure 4.1.8 (Rural Community Development)
     addressed the LEADER I evaluator’s recommendation for an increased
     concentration on capacity building.

2.30 Measure 4.1.9 (Strategic Area Plans and Community Regeneration Projects)
     provided support for area based strategies to tackle the particular needs of specific


3
   Figures are taken from Group’s Quarterly Progress Reports and, despite efforts by DARD staff to
verify information provided, there remains a danger that discrepancies can occur. Some of the jobs
created, for example, are likely to have been claimed by other funding bodies.



                                                                                                     25
     disadvantaged rural areas. The programme document envisaged a total of nine
     such strategies.

2.31 The areas to be assisted were selected on need, with priority given to the most
     disadvantaged rural areas. The areas were to be

          ‘self identifying’, in that there should be a common identity or bond within
           a geographical area;

          below District Council area in size, although they could cross boundaries;

          small enough for the funding to have a discernible impact;

          show potential for growth; and

          have a ‘host organisation’ (pre existing community development
           organisation) available.

2.32 Each Strategy was managed by an Area Based Strategy Action Group (ABSAG)
     made up of public sector agencies (typically Government Departments such as
     Agriculture, Economic Development, Health and Social Services and the
     Environment, the Rural Development Council and local District Councils) and
     representatives of the local community and the private and voluntary sectors.

2.33 In each case, a Strategy Manager was appointed. The Managers are normally
     employed by a local community organisation in each area (or, where no
     organisation is available, by the local District Council) and report to DARD’s
     Rural Area Co-ordinators. The Strategy Manager was responsible for conducting
     the socio-economic audit, assessing project applications and preparing papers for
     discussion and approval by the ABSAG. Administration costs and salaries
     typically accounted for around 15% of each strategy’s allocation.

2.34 In each strategy area, a thorough audit of the strengths, weaknesses and potential
     of the area was undertaken by the Strategy Manager. Drawing on this
     information, the ABSAG then identified and prioritised the main needs and
     opportunities in the area and devised a strategy to address them. Because each of
     the strategy areas was different, each strategy was different. The themes
     identified included infrastructure, tourism, employment, housing and planning,
     environment, agriculture/fishing, locally based services, communication and
     information, health and provision for youth and play.




26
The Mid Term Evaluation of the Sub Programme for Agriculture, Fisheries and
Rural Development (SPARD)

2.35 The mid term evaluation of SPARD was completed in 1996. It found a strong
     rationale for the concept of Area Based Strategies, but expressed concern for their
     future after 1999, particularly in light of the possible changes in local
     administration that might result from the peace process in Northern Ireland.

2.36 The evaluators were concerned that the long period of time between initiating area
     audits and formally launching the Strategies tended to sap the momentum of the
     Action Groups. The evaluators did not feel able to report on impacts as there had
     been a comparatively short time of operation at the time of the evaluation.

2.37 The evaluators recommended that the Area Based Strategy initiative should
     continue, but that, in future, the timescale for approval of Strategies should be
     reduced. They noted the large differences in population size between different
     areas, resulting in large discrepancies in terms of funding per ‘head’. As a matter
     of equity, but also because larger populations would normally be expected to
     absorb more funds, the evaluators recommended that consideration should be
     given to allocating funding according to population size. However, they also
     suggested that allocations should be regarded as flexible, depending on speed of
     uptake and total commitment.

Mid Term Evaluations of Individual Strategies

2.38 Four mid term evaluations of individual Strategies have been carried out so far
     and the results of these evaluations of the early Strategies informed the decisions
     made in establishing subsequent ABSAGs.

2.39 While the evaluators’ findings necessarily dealt with minor procedural issues and
     recommendations specific to the group under review, a number of common
     themes surfaced. Three of the Strategies felt that their geographical area was not a
     natural area or was unnaturally restricted by the selection criteria. There were
     mixed feelings about the Department’s role in the Strategy. In three of the groups,
     evaluators found that ABSAG members were evenly split between welcoming the
     Department’s input and criticising its role as too bureaucratic and interfering. In
     two cases, the evaluators noted that the lack of measurable objectives made
     evaluation of performance difficult.


District Partnerships

2.40 The Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (SSPPR) was
     established in 1995 as a result of a Commission task force set up to investigate
     ways to maintain the momentum for peace presaged by the paramilitary cease-
     fires declared in 1994. The initiative’s objective was “...to promote reconciliation
     by increasing economic development and employment, promoting urban and rural



                                                                                       27
     regeneration, developing cross border co-operation and extending social
     inclusion.”

2.41 The Initiative was organised into seven sub programmes:
     1.    Employment,
     2.    Urban and Rural Regeneration,
     3.    Cross Border Development,
     4.    Social Inclusion,
     5.    Investment and Development,
     6.    Partnerships,
     7.    Technical Assistance.

2.42 In Northern Ireland, over 44 meuro was allocated to Sub-Programme 6 (District
     Partnerships) and the Northern Ireland Partnership Board was established to
     oversee its delivery. 26 District Partnerships have been established, one for each
     local council area in Northern Ireland. Many of the Partnerships are either run as
     an integral part of council administration or staffed by council staff funded by a
     service level agreement. Funding allocations were based on the population and
     levels of deprivation within each Partnership area.

2.43 Each Partnership Board comprises one third elected representatives, one third
     from the community/voluntary sectors and one third from public bodies, trades
     union and business. Attempts are made to ensure full and equal representation of
     women on Partnership Boards. This has been hampered somewhat by the absence
     of women in those bodies which nominate members to the Boards. At March
     1998, 34% of Partnerships’ members were women.

2.44 Each Partnership undertook a six stage work process aimed at gaining NIPB
     approval of a Phase 1 Action Plan by June 1996. The six stages were:

     1.    Research into existing strategies and programmes,

     2.    Profiling the area, including a detailed look at census information, Robson
           indicators, community audits and academic research. Particular attention
           was paid to identifying pockets of deprivation and localities where ‘the
           troubles’ had a particular impact.

     3.    Consulting local organisations, the intention being to ensure that all sectors
           of society, including the most marginalised, have an opportunity to have
           their opinions taken into account.

     4.    Approval of Strategy document by the NIPB and publication of the
           document, followed by a call for applications,




28
     5.    Processing of applications and scoring, taking account of need, value for
           money, consultation and involvement and sustainability,

     6.    Presentation of an Action Plan to the NIPB, listing selected projects,
           timescale and resources.

2.45 The first phase, with an apparent emphasis on rapidly getting money spent ‘on the
     ground’ was followed by two further phases, each with a more strategic, less
     reactive approach, with greater focus on sustainable, quality projects.

2.46 There have been a number of evaluations carried out on the Sub Programme, all of
     which have supported the Partnership model. A number have mentioned that the
     Partnerships have had a significant impact on community relations.


Mid Term Review of the Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation

2.47 The SSPPR was subject to mid term review at the end of 1996. The review
     considered that the District Partnerships and Social Inclusion sub programmes had
     been important in distinguishing the SSPPR from the other EU programmes in
     Northern Ireland. A number of Programme wide recommendations addressed
     communication within the Programme and co-ordination between SSPPR and
     other programmes. It was suggested that all funding bodies should meet, at
     District Council level, to co-ordinate applications.

2.48 In relation to District Partnerships, the evaluators noted that most areas proved
     that they could identify and address local problems. Areas had also taken the
     opportunity to address contentious issues. The evaluators also listed a number of
     improvements identified by the Partnerships themselves: more training was
     needed on a variety of issues; Boards could be made more representative,
     particularly with regard to ‘youth’; there was a need to involve potential users in
     the application and approval process; there was a need to reach groups and
     individuals not yet participating in the Programme and there could be more formal
     and structured linkage between the NIPB and the Partnerships.

2.49 The evaluators conclusions included:
          more training to be provided for Board members;
          an enhanced role for the Partnerships in their relationship with the NIPB
          top slicing future allocation to encourage bids for collaboration projects
           with other Partnerships;
          better co-operation between Partnerships and other agencies
          a greater focus on Social Inclusion in Phase 2 Action Plans and more focus
           on sustainable projects in future round of applications.




                                                                                        29
Final Evaluation

2.50 Work is ongoing on the Final Evaluation. A total of £81.1 million (125.71 meuro)
     was allocated to the Partnerships in total, funding 3,815 projects. Early
     indications suggest that over 3,000 jobs were created or sustained by the
     Programme. Perhaps more importantly, given the aims of the Peace Programme,
     79% of those involved in community relations projects stated that participation
     had changed their understanding of the views held by people with a different
     community background.


Lessons from Analysis of Previous Operations

2.51 The analysis of previous LEADER and LEADER-style operations in Northern
     Ireland shows that there are benefits to be derived by delivering development and
     regeneration activities through locally based partnerships (see paragraphs 2.35 and
     2.46. However, there are some common themes running through the various
     evaluations that point up some lessons for the Northern Ireland LEADER+
     Programme.

          There is a need for the Programme to contain provision for training for the
           Board members and managers of Local Action Groups (see paragraphs 2.24
           and 2.48).

          There is significant difficulty in ensuring the equal representation of women
           on the Boards of local groups (see paragraphs 2.17 and 2.43) and groups
           need to be encouraged to look for new ways of facilitating women’s
           involvement.

          There is a need to ensure that the distinctive role of LEADER+ is clear and
           that the relationship between LEADER and other Programmes is more
           widely understood (see paragraphs 2.23, 2.24 and 2.49).

          There is a need to encourage and facilitate greater levels of co-operation and
           networking (see paragraphs 2.23, 2.24 and 2.49).

          The allocation of funding needs to take account of the population size of the
           selected areas, while retaining flexibility to allocate additional funds where
           there is high take up (see paragraph 2.37).

          There can be significant delays before the implementation of local strategies
           can begin (see paragraphs 2.23 and 2.37) and there is a need to ensure that
           they are approved as quickly as possible.




30
ANALYSIS OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SITUATION IN RURAL AREAS


2.52 The analysis is presented under eight main headings:

            demography

            labour market

            economic structure

            key sectors

            social exclusion

            transport

            quality of life

            environment


Definition of rural areas

2.53 While most people might regard the meaning of the term ‘rural’ as self-evident,
     there is no universally agreed statistical definition of rural areas. For example,
     some would argue that all of Northern Ireland outside Belfast and the city of
     Derry/Londonderry is rural while others would exclude all but the smallest
     villages from the definition.

2.54 The eligible area for the LEADER programme is defined as all of Northern
     Ireland excluding Belfast, the city of Derry/Londonderry and towns with
     populations greater than 5,000 (see Chapter 1). However, there are very few up to
     date statistics available below District Council level, making it impossible to
     present a definitive analysis of the socio-economic situation in the eligible area.
     Therefore, for the purposes of the statistical analysis presented in this Chapter,
     rural areas have been defined as the 17 most rural of Northern Ireland's 26 District
     Councils3. This definition is consistent with that used in the Northern Ireland
     Rural Development Regulation Plan (the ‘accompanying measures’ plan). The
     definition is solely for the purposes of this analysis and should not be taken to be
     an assertion that rural areas are not found in the other districts.




3
 The ‘rural’ District Councils are: Armagh City and District, Ballymena Borough, Ballymoney Borough,
Banbridge Borough, Coleraine Borough, Cookstown District, Craigavon Borough, Down District,
Dungannon District, Fermanagh District, Larne Borough, Limavady Borough, Magherafelt District,
Moyle District, Newry and Mourne District, Omagh District and Strabane District.



                                                                                                 31
2.55 Although there are differences between the eligible area for LEADER+ and the
     ‘rural areas’ defined for the purposes of this statistical analysis, they overlap to a
     considerable degree. It is therefore considered that the analysis will present an
     accurate representation of the situation in the area that will benefit from the
     Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme. Figure 2 shows the relationship
     between the eligible area for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme and the
     rural area as defined using the district council classification.

       Figure 2: Relationship between the area eligible for the Northern Ireland
       LEADER+ Programme and the definition of ‘rural areas’ for the purposes of the
       socio-economic analysis.




Demography

2.56 In 1999, the population of Northern Ireland was 52% urban and 48% rural.
     Population density differs sharply with 71 persons per sq. km in the rural areas as
     compared to 421 persons per sq. km in urban areas (Northern Ireland: 125). In the
     period 1992-99, the rural population has grown by 4.8%, compared to the urban
     growth of 3.6% and the Northern Ireland rate of 4.1%, as shown in Figure 3
     overleaf.




32
           Figure 3: Annual Population Growth Rates, 1992-1999

          1.2
                                                                                       NI
          1.0
                                                                                       Urban
          0.8                                                                          Rural
          0.6
   %
          0.4

          0.2

          0.0

       -0.2




2.57 This significantly higher rural population growth is due to the fact that rural areas
     have higher birth rates (live births per 1,000 population) and lower death rates
     than urban Northern Ireland, as shown in Figure 4 below. The natural change in
     population (total births minus total deaths) has been thus been consistently higher
     in rural than in urban Northern Ireland.


            Figure 4: Birth Rates and Death Rates, 1992-99
       18.0
                                                                 Urban NI   Rural NI
       16.0
       14.0
       12.0
       10.0
        8.0
        6.0
        4.0
        2.0
        0.0



2.58 The population structure of rural Northern Ireland differs to some degree from
     that the rest of Northern Ireland; thus, of the population:

               25.2% are aged under 16, 1999 (Urban: 23.5%; Northern Ireland: 24.3%)

               14.4% are of pensionable age (Urban: 16.0%; Northern Ireland: 15.2%)

               60.4% are of working age (Urban: 60.5%, Northern Ireland: 60.4%).

      The high proportion of younger people in rural areas reflects the relatively high
      birth rate.



                                                                                               33
Labour Market

2.59 The Labour market situation has improved markedly in Northern Ireland since
     1996 but until very recently statistics still showed higher unemployment rates in
     rural than urban areas.

2.60 Economic activity rates relate to the working age population that is economically
     active, expressed as a percentage of the total working age population. The
     economic activity rate for rural Northern Ireland has been increasing; in 1997, it
     was 73.7%, as compared to 72.2% for urban Northern Ireland and 72.9% for
     Northern Ireland as a whole.

2.61 A further sign of an improved labour market is the decrease in the numbers
     unemployed in rural areas. Figure 5 below shows the numbers unemployed for
     the years 1990 and 1999, plus the percentage decrease in the period 1990-99. In
     1990, there were 45,857 people unemployed in rural Northern Ireland, compared
     to 23,807 in 1999, a decrease of 48%, as compared to a fall of 47% in urban
     Northern Ireland.
        Figure 5: Total Unemployed and % Decrease, 1990-99
       60000
                                                                                    1990
       50000
                                                                                    1999
       40000
       30000
       20000
       10000
           0
                        Urban NI (-47.4%)                     Rural NI (-48.1%)


2.62 There was a particularly large decrease in female unemployment in rural Northern
     Ireland in this period, -51% (Urban Northern Ireland: -54%), compared to -47%
     for males in rural Northern Ireland (Urban Northern Ireland: -45%).

2.63 As Figure 6 shows, unemployment in rural Northern Ireland is now only a little
     above the urban rate – though the situation for women in rural areas remains
     relatively adverse with unemployment significantly higher than for urban women.

      Figure 6: Unemployment rates

       8.0
                                                            Urban NI
       6.0                                                  Rural NI
     % 4.0

       2.0

       0.0
                     Male                      Female                       Total




34
2.64 The ratio of vacancies to unemployment is also a useful indicator of labour market
     balance. In February 1999, there were 13.6 vacancies per 100 unemployed
     persons in rural areas compared with a figure for Urban Northern Ireland of 18.7.
     These figures suggest that, for the unemployed, finding a job may be more
     difficult in rural than in urban areas.

2.65 The evidence of a lower level of job opportunities in rural areas is supported by
     some evidence that the hard core of unemployment may be relatively large in rural
     areas. As Figure 7 shows, long term unemployment as a proportion of total
     unemployment tends to be higher in rural areas than in urban areas and that the
     gap is widening.

      Figure 7: Long-Term Unemployment as a % of All Unemployment

      70.0
      60.0
      50.0
      40.0
    %
      30.0
      20.0
      10.0
       0.0
               1991       1992        1993          1994         1995       1996       1997
                                    NI   Urban NI     Rural NI


2.66 These two points suggest that the labour market situation in rural areas is less
     favourable than would be implied by the simple unemployment data.

2.67 The data on labour skills are limited by the nature of the statistics collected on
     education and training at Council level. However, it is possible to collate
     information on the qualification levels of the work force, as shown in Figure 8.

      Figure 8: Working Age Population Educational Qualifications, 1997

        100%
         90%
         80%
         70%
         60%
         50%
         40%
         30%
         20%
         10%
          0%
                             Urban NI                                   Rural NI
                NVQ Level 4 and Above        Below NVQ Level 4     No Qualifications   Missing




                                                                                              35
2.68 The data suggest that the rural work force is relatively lacking in higher level
     skills with a large proportion of the population having no formal qualifications at
     all.


Women in the Labour Market

2.69 The data presented above on unemployment indicate that, despite improvement in
     recent years, women remain at a disadvantage in rural labour markets. The
     continued relatively high unemployment rate among rural women has been noted.
     Further insights are provided by research presented to the conference European
     Policy at the Crossroads by the Arkelton Centre for Rural Research in July 2000
     by Dr Joan Moss. This work showed that only 43% of women living on farms in
     Northern Ireland were engaged in the labour market compared with 81% of men
     and 57% of women not living on farms. The low representation of farm women
     in the labour market was all the more striking given that educational attainment
     levels among farm women were found to be much higher than for farm men.

2.70 Women in rural areas, especially women in farm families, remain at a
     disadvantage in the labour market.


Economic Structure

2.71 Figures 9 and 10 set out the industrial structure of employment in rural Northern
     Ireland and urban Northern Ireland. They show the percentage of the working
     population working in each of the specified sectors in 1997. This sectoral
     breakdown does not include figures for the agricultural sector, as they have not
     been included by DETI at District Council level.

     Figure 9: Sectoral Structure – Urban Northern Ireland




                                  Other Services        Manufacturing
                                                           15%
                  Health & Social Work 5%
                          16%                                           Utilities
                                                                          0%
                  Education
                     9%                                                    Construction
           Public Administration                                               4%
                   12%                                                    Wholesale & Retail
           Real Estate, Renting &                                                16%
               Other Business                                            Hotels & Restaurants
                   Activities                                  Transport          8%
                                          Financial
                     8%                                           4%
                                       Intermediation
                                             3%




     Figure 10: Sectoral Structure – Rural Northern Ireland




36
                                       Other Services               Manufacturing
                                            4%                         23%


                           Health & Social Work
                                   15%                                      Utilities
               Education                                                      0%
                 13%                                                             Construction
                                                                                     6%
                     Public Administration
                              7%
                                                                            Wholesale & Retail
           Real Estate, Renting &                                                 17%
              Other Business
                 Activities          Financial                         Hotels & Restaurants
                                                        Transport
                    4%            Intermediation                                5%
                                                           4%
                                        2%



2.72 The economic structure of rural Northern Ireland does differ significantly from
     that of urban Northern Ireland:

          the rural areas have a much higher proportion of the working population,
           working in manufacturing;

          rural areas have a lower proportion working in hotels and restaurants;

          the proportion working in private sector business services is much lower in
           rural areas; and

          there is a lower proportion of rural employment in public administration but
           a higher proportion in education

2.73 Rural areas are often perceived of as being dependent upon agriculture and
     tourism. These are key sectors and will be considered below, but it is important to
     note that manufacturing is a major employer, providing over 50,000 jobs in rural
     areas – more than agriculture when account is taken of the part-time nature of
     much agricultural employment.

2.74 There have been significant changes in employment levels in the various sectors
     in both rural and urban Northern Ireland between 1993 and 1997, as shown in
     Table 3 overleaf. These include
          a 27% increase in the number employed in hotels and restaurants (Urban NI:
           +28%);
          a 24% increase in the numbers employed in transport (+11%);
          a 4% decrease in the numbers employed in the financial sector (+4%); and
          an 8% decrease in the numbers employed in public administration (-5%).




                                                                                                 37
     Table 3: Sectoral Employment Change, 1993-97

                                                              Urban NI (%)      Rural NI (%)
       Manufacturing                                              +3.6             +13.3
       Utilities                                                  -11.7             n.a.
       Construction                                               +9.4             +19.9
       Wholesale & Retail                                         +15.3            +18.4
       Hotels & Restaurants                                       +27.8            +26.7
       Transport                                                  +10.6            +23.9
       Financial Sector                                           +3.6              -3.5
       Real Estate, Renting & Other Business Services             +29.8            +23.5
       Public Administration                                       -4.6             -7.6
       Education                                                  +9.9             +16.4
       Health & Social Work                                       +12.5             +3.5
       Other Services                                             +3.0              +7.1

2.75 The total number of employee jobs in rural Northern Ireland increased in the
     period 1993-97 from 212,153 to 236,383, an increase of 11.4%. This increase
     was higher than that for urban Northern Ireland, at 9.1%. To some degree, the
     rural areas may have benefited from a cyclical recovery in manufacturing and
     construction. It is notable that finance and business services, which are long term
     growth sectors, grew more slowly in the rural districts. It must also be borne in
     mind that these data include towns in the rural District Council areas and the rural
     areas proper (see paragraphs 2.54 and 2.55) may not have gained from growth in
     characteristically urban activities such as business services and finance.


Key Sectors

2.76 Agriculture: The agriculture industry accounts for approximately 4½ per cent of
     GDP and 6 per cent of employment in Northern Ireland; only the construction
     industry makes a larger contribution to GDP. If the input supply and wood and
     food processing industries are included, the combined agri-food and forestry
     sector accounts for 7½ per cent of GDP and almost 10 per cent of employment,
     generating approximately 20 per cent of the manufacturing sector’s total external
     sales. However, in common with other developed and developing economies, the
     contribution of agriculture and its related industries to the regional economy has
     been declining in relative terms as other parts of the economy have expanded at a
     faster rate.

2.77 Climate, topography and soil type in Northern Ireland combine to produce an
     environment in which arable farming is of relatively minor importance,
     accounting for only 5 per cent of gross agricultural output in 1998. Grazing
     livestock, by contrast, are found on well over 90 per cent of Northern Ireland
     farms and, in 1998, accounted for almost two thirds of the output and 73 per cent




38
     of the aggregate gross margin of the agricultural industry. The intensive livestock
     sectors (pigs, eggs and poultry) accounted for approximately 18 per cent of gross
     output. However, given the dependence of the intensive sectors on imported
     feedstuffs, their contribution to the industry’s value added was more modest,
     accounting for less than 10 per cent of aggregate gross margin.

2.78 Northern Ireland agriculture is characterised by owner-occupied, family farms.
     The average area farmed is, at 34 hectares, over twice the EU average but slightly
     less than half that of the UK as a whole. This pattern is repeated across many of
     the individual farming enterprises, where the average size in Northern Ireland is
     above the EU average (apart from cereals) but below that in the UK. For
     example, the average dairy herd in Northern Ireland consists of 51 cows, which is
     greater than in Denmark (40) and the Netherlands (43), but considerably less than
     the UK average of 69. Similarly, the average beef cow herd has 19 cows, which is
     below the UK average of 26, but compares favourably with other northern
     European countries. In the case of sheep, the average flock size of over 250
     exceeds that of all EU Member States apart from the UK. Only two other
     Member States, Spain and Ireland, have an average of over 100 sheep per flock
     (160 and 150 respectively). The exception to this general pattern is in the case of
     poultry enterprises, where production in Northern Ireland is concentrated on a
     relatively small number of large-scale units, which are of similar average sizes to
     those across the UK as a whole. In the case of eggs, the average unit in Northern
     Ireland is larger than the UK average and in both the egg and poultrymeat sectors,
     the average production unit in Northern Ireland is many times larger than the
     corresponding EU average. This also applies in the case of pig herds.

2.79 Almost 70 per cent of the agricultural area of Northern Ireland is in the Less
     Favoured Areas (LFA), which is sub-divided into a Severely Disadvantaged Area
     and a Disadvantaged Area, and 69 per cent of farms have all, or most of their area
     in the LFA. However, only 50 per cent of the medium and large farms in the
     region are in the LFA and 53 per cent of LFA farms are too small to provide full-
     time employment for one person. Although the average area of farms in the LFA
     is broadly the same as that of lowland farms, the average business size (in terms
     of European Size Units) is less than two-thirds of that of a lowland farm. Over
     three-quarters of the farms within the LFA, and over 85 per cent in the Severely
     Disadvantaged Areas, depend mainly on beef cattle and sheep production.

2.80 Forests are under-represented in Northern Ireland compared with European
     averages. They cover only 6 per cent of the land area and are expanding slowly,
     at a rate of 700 hectares per year. Forests are mainly State owned coniferous
     plantations established since 1945. Only one fifth is privately owned and these
     woodlands tend to be small, averaging less than 5 hectares, and are closely
     associated with farming. The forestry sector has a turnover of about £30 million
     (46.50 meuro) a year, based on Northern Ireland grown timber. The sector also
     produces considerable social and environmental benefits. Each year, two million
     visits are made by members of the general public to forests and they are an
     important means of access to the countryside. They also make a significant




                                                                                      39
     contribution to the ecology and landscape of Northern Ireland, providing food and
     shelter for a range of species which are adapted to woodland conditions.

2.81 The agricultural industry, and to a lesser degree its ancillary industries, have been
     going through a period of considerable difficulty in recent years because of (a) the
     onset of the BSE crisis in March 1996, which still adversely affects producer
     returns despite the limited lifting of the export ban on United Kingdom beef; (b)
     the impact of sterling’s appreciation on foreign exchange markets, which has led
     to a significant fall in producer returns; and (c) the more recent downturn in
     international agricultural commodity market prices. These factors combined to
     produce a sharp reduction in aggregate agricultural income, with total income
     from farming falling by 73 per cent between 1995 and 1998, taking it to its lowest
     level in real terms for at least 18 years. It is anticipated that provisional figures
     for 1999 will show a further significant fall. This sharp downturn followed a
     period of strong income growth during the first half of the 1990s, peaking in 1995,
     when incomes reached their highest level since the period immediately prior to the
     UK’s accession to the EC in 1973.

2.82 The reduction in incomes in recent years has affected virtually all of the farming
     enterprises in Northern Ireland. On average, lowland cattle and sheep farms have
     returned negative net farm incomes in each of the past five years, with LFA cattle
     and sheep, cereals, pigs and poultry and mixed farms forecast to have incurred
     losses in 1999/00.

2.83 The Northern Ireland agricultural sector thus shares the problems of European
     agriculture while suffering further by the marginal nature of many farm businesses
     in Northern Ireland and by the difficulties of the local environment. It is evident
     from the data on farm income that many farms do not provide a “living income”,
     so farm families must be supplementing their earnings with other part time work.
     The paper presented by Dr Joan Moss to the European Policy at the Crossroads
     conference indicated that only 31% of farming households in Northern Ireland
     depended on farming for all of their income. Sectors such as food processing and
     textiles provide employment for farm household members and the recent
     difficulties of these sectors will have had a serious effect on farm household
     incomes.

2.84 Tourism: The relative importance of tourism to rural Northern Ireland is
     demonstrated by the fact that rural areas account for a disproportionately high
     share of tourist activity. Thus, while rural Northern Ireland accounts for under
     half of the province’s population, the number of tourist trips to the area in 1998
     was 1,055,900, higher than that to urban Northern Ireland (964,100 trips) and total
     expenditure by tourists in rural Northern Ireland in 1998 was £143.3m (222.12
     meuro) compared to £136.7m (211.89 meuro) in urban Northern Ireland.

2.85 The average number of nights spent per trip (1998) at 5.0 was higher than that of
     urban Northern Ireland with 4.8, although the average spend per trip (£135.70)
     (210.34 euro) was lower than the urban Northern Ireland average (£141.82)
     (219.83 euro).



40
2.86 Rural Northern Ireland has a significantly higher number of bedspaces than urban
     Northern Ireland (Rural Northern Ireland: 18,226; Urban Northern Ireland:
     11,977) though a much lower proportion (28%) of these are provided by hotels
     than in urban Northern Ireland (48%).

2.87 In urban Northern Ireland much tourism will be business trips – hence the higher
     daily spend and shorter average stay. The hotel sector is strongly oriented to
     urban/business tourism. Rural tourism is thus much more oriented to
     “holidaymaking” and more likely than urban tourism to involve small local
     businesses.

2.88 Industry and Commerce: The number of individual businesses is, proportionally,
     very high in rural areas. Thus there are 34,880 VAT registered firms in rural
     Northern Ireland, compared to 19,710 in urban Northern Ireland. Moreover, this
     total increased by 5.6% in the period 1995-98; the equivalent change for urban
     Northern Ireland was +0.2%.

2.89 At face value, this high level of small firm activity is a strength. However, it must
     be borne in mind that much small firm activity in rural areas is related to
     agriculture and that many of these firms are very small indeed. Thus, there is a
     high number of VAT-registered firms in the agricultural industry, 14,745,
     representing 44.8% of the rural Northern Ireland total.

2.90 Just over 60% of firms in rural Northern Ireland have turnovers of less than
     £100,000 (155,000 euros) as compared to approximately 45% in urban Northern
     Ireland. Figure 11 shows that the business sector in rural Northern Ireland has a
     preponderance of very small firms and a relative lack of large enterprises.
      Figure 11: Proportion of VAT Registered Enterprises within Turnover Bands, 1998


      100%
                                                                                 5000+
       90%
       80%                                                                       1000-4999
       70%
                                                                                 500-999
       60%
       50%                                                                       250-499

       40%
                                                                                 100-249
       30%
       20%                                                                       50-99

       10%
                                                                                 0-49
        0%
                        Urban NI                         Rural NI




                                                                                         41
2.91 Larger firms are more important in manufacturing. Manufacturing is a large
     employer but accounts for a relatively small proportion of total VAT-registered
     businesses in the area, at 6.6%.

2.92 Change in the sector depends upon the creation of new and expanding businesses
     – either through indigenous development or inward investment. While the rate of
     business starts in rural areas is encouraging – the “quality” and survival prospects
     of many of these starts are more questionable. Thus the multiplier impact of
     business activity is low for enterprises who direct their efforts toward the local
     market but larger for those “exporting” since the latter types of enterprise bring
     additional income into the areas in which they are located.

2.93 In rural areas, business creation is often aimed at the local consumer markets
     (retailing, community services, etc.) or on market niches with a strong local
     identity such as regional crafts or the utilisation of local resources.

2.94 Business creation in rural areas is hampered by lack of access to distribution
     channels and markets, the lack of communications infrastructure, weaknesses in
     the support network of business services from office maintenance to consulting
     and, in some cases, shortages of skills.

2.95 New information and communication technology can play an important role in
     business development in rural areas, in particular in overcoming problems of
     isolation and providing low-cost access to information and thus giving impetus to
     business links and network building.

2.96 Developing networks can be seen to be one of the keys for successful business
     development in rural areas. Three aspects of networking are relevant: economic –
     involving trading linkages between firms, links to supply chains, distribution
     activities and customer interaction; social – linkages between people which foster
     innovation and learning; and political – influencing policy and strategy
     formulation between core regional actors.

2.97 These networks are typically weak in rural areas and therefore rural business can
     lack advantages possessed by small firms in urban areas such as: links to large
     firms which can be sources of knowledge and technology; the existence of
     “clusters” of inter-linked businesses which act as networks of co-operation and
     association through which information and innovation are fostered; and the
     presence of important regional institutions (such as academic and industry bodies)
     which promote trading activity, facilitate learning and exert political influence.

2.98 The challenge to policy is to develop initiatives which can create in rural areas the
     typically urban advantages described in the previous paragraph.

2.99 Figure 12 overleaf presents some indicators of business development activity in
     what may be regarded as growth activities – that is IDB invested companies and
     inward investment enquiries. It is evident that this type of activity, which is
     focused on businesses, which will bring about structural economic change, is



42
     concentrated in urban areas. This suggests that the “new economy” is not being
     created in rural Northern Ireland.

     Figure 12: Industrial Organisation


    2000
    1800
    1600                                                                     Urban NI
    1400                                                                     Rural NI

    1200
    1000
     800
     600
     400
     200
        0
             Total Investment in IDB   Total IDB Assistance   Total Visits by Potential
            Companies (£m, 1994-99)       (£m, 1993-99)         Investors (1994-99)



Social Exclusion

2.100 Indicators of social exclusion include the scale of long-term unemployment and
      the numbers claiming benefits. The total number of individuals classed as long-
      term unemployed has decreased substantially (-51.7%) in Northern Ireland,
      between 1991-98. This decrease has also been a characteristic in rural Northern
      Ireland, -51.6%. The overall decrease for urban Northern Ireland was -52.2%.
      As noted in paragraph 2.65, the ratio of long term unemployed to total
      unemployed in rural areas has remained largely static over this period and has
      thus risen relative to urban areas.

2.101 For many areas in Northern Ireland, the numbers claiming benefits such as
      incapacity, job seekers, disability living allowance and income support have
      decreased. Figure 13 overleaf shows the percentage change in claimants for the
      four benefits listed above, for the period 1997-99.

2.102 For three of the benefits listed, there has been a increase in the number of
      claimants in rural Northern Ireland. For two of these, incapacity and disability
      living allowance, the percentage increase has been greater in rural Northern
      Ireland than in either Northern Ireland as a whole or in urban Northern Ireland.
      The figures must be treated with caution but they do suggest a growing problem
      of people with disabilities or incapacitating illness living in rural areas.




                                                                                          43
         Figure 13: Percentage Change in the Number of Benefit Claimants



20.00
15.00
10.00
 5.00
 0.00
 -5.00     Incapacity Benefit     Job Seekers     Disability Living   Income Support
                                   Allowance         Allowance                NI
-10.00
-15.00                                                                        Urban NI

-20.00                                                                        Rural NI
-25.00



Transport

2.103 Transport is a well recognised problem in rural areas. Bus services tend to be
      more infrequent than in the more densely populated areas and the rail network,
      which mainly covers the east and north of the region, is focused on urban areas.

2.104 The road network is critical to rural areas. The composition of the road network
      in rural areas compared to urban areas is shown in Figure 14. The heavy
      dependence of rural areas on a network of unclassified and secondary roads is
      evident.

         Figure 14: Road Classification


         100%
         90%                                                                Unclassified
         80%
                                                                            Class III
         70%
         60%                                                                Class II
         50%
                                                                            Single
         40%                                                                Carriageway
         30%                                                                Dual
                                                                            Carriageway
         20%
                                                                            Motorway
         10%
          0%
                           Urban NI                    Rural NI



Quality of Life



44
2.105 Figure 15 below compares average weekly earnings in rural Northern Ireland
      with average weekly earnings in both urban Northern Ireland and Northern
      Ireland as a whole. It shows that though wages are rising in all areas, there
      remains a consistently significant gap between rural and urban earnings with
      earnings in urban areas averaging £349.70 (542.04 euro) in 1999 compared to
      just £313.53 (485.98 euro) in rural areas. Over the entire period though rural
      earnings have risen on average by 18% as compared to an urban increase of just
      14% - thus the gap is narrowing.

     Figure 15: Average Earnings 1995 to 1999

           360.00



           340.00



           320.00



       £'s 300.00


           280.00
                                                                                  NI
                                                                                  Urban NI
           260.00                                                                 Rural NI


           240.00
                      1995           1996            1997            1998           1999




2.106 Earnings are one means of assessing the ‘quality of life’ in an area; housing is
      recognised as another. In rural Northern Ireland, housing seems to be
      experiencing something of a boom period with a significant number of new
      private houses being built in the area over recent years. In the period 1990-99,
      there were a total of 39,327 private enterprise housing starts in the, 59% of the
      Northern Ireland total. The proportion of housing association starts has been
      lower though with only 5,536 new social housing units or 34% of the Northern
      Ireland total.


Environment


2.107 Rural Northern Ireland contains many attractive landscapes and highly valued
      environments. This creates opportunities for tourism and leisure while, at the
      same time, presenting challenges and constraints in terms of the protection of the
      environment. Thus a large proportion of the land area of rural Northern Ireland
      is designated as environmentally sensitive.




                                                                                       45
2.108 It is important to recognise that the rural environment of Northern Ireland is as
      much a creation of human activity - especially farming - as of nature. The
      dispersed settlement pattern combined with fairly intensive agriculture has
      created a highly varied ecological context of different habitats. The cultural
      heritage and settlement pattern is similarly varied.

2.109 This attractive environment is a major asset in heritage and economic terms.
      Threats to that heritage include the decline of the farming sector, which has
      created much of the environment, and pressure from urban development - it is
      estimated, for example, that since the 1950s urban development has consumed
      160 square miles (41,000 hectares) of countryside in Northern Ireland (source:
      Shaping Our Future).

2.110 It is important that rural development strategy, while making use of the natural
      environment – e.g. for tourism – protects that environment and the economic and
      social context which sustains the environment.




46
SWOT ANALYSIS

2.111 An overall SWOT analysis of rural Northern Ireland, drawing on the data
      presented above, is set out below.


Strengths

2.112 The principal strengths of rural Northern Ireland are as follows:
           a relatively youthful population (see paragraph 2.58);
           a demonstrated capacity to generate employment (see paragraphs 2.61 and
            2.75);
           a culture of entrepreneurship and a vigorous small business sector, which
            means that people are open to the concept of self-employment/business
            creation (see paragraph 2.88);
           a natural heritage which has the capacity to attract tourists (see paragraph
            2.107); and
           a high quality and attractive environment (see paragraphs 2.107 and 2.108).


Weaknesses

2.113 The main weaknesses of the rural area are as follows:
           relative lack of skills – i.e. low proportion of working age population with
            qualifications at NVQ Level 4 and above (see paragraphs 2.67 and 2.68);
           high proportion of working age population with no qualifications (see
            paragraph 2.68);
           long term adverse structural factors affecting the agricultural industry (see
            paragraphs 2.78 and 2.79);
           the small scale and marginal nature of many agricultural businesses (see
            paragraphs 2.78, 2.79, 2.81, 2.82 and 2.83);
           a relatively high dependence on low growth manufacturing sectors (see
            paragraph 2.75);
           the reverse of the dynamism of the small firms sector is that the economy
            includes a high proportion of very small firms, many in a sector
            (agriculture) facing difficulty (see paragraph 2.89);
           the failure to attract inward investment or firms in dynamic sectors (see
            paragraph 2.99);
           poor quality road infrastructure (see paragraph 2.104); and
           limited access to public transport (see paragraph 2.103).



                                                                                           47
Opportunities

2.114 The opportunities for the area focus on exploitation of the key strengths. These
      opportunities are:
          attraction of new businesses to take advantage of the supply of younger
           labour (see paragraph 2.58);
          developing the capabilities and productivity of the small business sector
           thus increasing survival and growth of firms (see paragraph 2.92);
          development of the tourism sector and capitalisation on the qualities of the
           natural environment (see paragraph 2.107); and
          diversification of the agricultural sector to increase the value added gained
           from the sector and to increase incomes – e.g. through organic farming,
           tourist facilities and accommodation.


Threats

2.115 The main threats to the well-being of the area will arise from a failure to address
      the identified weaknesses and to counter established and emerging adverse
      trends. The main threats are:
          loss of educated young people, and thus skills, due to lack of economic
           opportunity (see paragraph 2.64);
          continued loss of employment and low incomes in agriculture with “knock
           on” effects to rest of economy (see paragraphs 2.81 and 2.82);
          decline in traditional manufacturing sectors (see paragraphs 2.72 to 2.75);
          intensified adverse structural trends in economy due to failure to attract
           growth businesses (see paragraph 2.99); and

2.116 A summary of the SWOT analysis is provided in Table 4 overleaf.




48
Table 4: Summary of SWOT Analysis


Strengths                                           Weaknesses

   a relatively youthful population                   relative lack of skills – i.e. low proportion
                                                        of working age population with
   a demonstrated capacity to generate                 qualifications at NVQ Level 4 and above
    employment
                                                       high proportion of working age population
   a culture of entrepreneurship and a                 with no qualifications
    vigorous small business sector, which
    means that people are open to the                  long term adverse structural factors
    concept of self-employment/business                 affecting the agricultural industry
    creation
                                                       the small scale and marginal nature of
   a natural heritage which has the capacity           many agricultural businesses
    to attract tourists
                                                       a relatively high dependence on low
   a high quality and attractive environment           growth manufacturing sectors
                                                       the reverse of the dynamism of the small
                                                        firms sector is that the economy includes
                                                        a high proportion of very small firms,
                                                        many in a sector (agriculture) facing
                                                        difficulty
                                                       a failure to attract inward investment or
                                                        firms in dynamic sectors
                                                       poor quality road infrastructure
                                                       limited access to public transport

Opportunities                                       Threats

   attraction of new businesses to take               loss of educated young people, and thus
    advantage of the supply of younger                  skills, due to lack of economic
    labour                                              opportunity
   developing the capabilities and                    continued loss of employment and low
    productivity of the small business sector           incomes in agriculture with “knock on”
    thus increasing survival and growth of              effects to rest of economy
    firms
                                                       decline in traditional manufacturing
   development of the tourism sector and               sectors
    capitalisation on the qualities of the
    natural environment                                intensified adverse structural trends in
                                                        economy due to failure to attract growth
   diversification of the agricultural sector to       businesses
    increase the value added gained from the
    sector and to increase incomes – e.g.
    through organic farming, tourist facilities
    and accommodation




                                                                                                    49
                                     CHAPTER 3

                            EX ANTE EVALUATION

Introduction

3.1   The Ex-Ante Evaluation has been carried out by DTZ Pieda Consulting.

3.2   The previous section set out an analysis of previous operations and an assessment
      of the situation in the rural areas of Northern Ireland and presented an analysis of
      the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats confronting rural areas.

3.3   The analysis of previous operations, the assessment of the situation and the
      SWOT analysis forms the first part of the Ex Ante Evaluation of LEADER+. The
      remaining elements of the Ex ante Evaluation are presented here and consist of:

           Analysis of the lessons of previous programmes;

           An assessment of the relevance and consistency of the Northern Ireland
            LEADER+ Programme and its objectives; and

           A prior appraisal of the implementation arrangements including evaluation
            and monitoring.

3.4   The evaluation has been carried out in line with the principles in Article 41 of the
      Structural Funds Regulation and has been carried out independently of the
      programme preparation.


Lessons Of Previous Programmes

3.5   LEADER+ was preceded by the first LEADER programme, established in 1991,
      and by LEADER II in 1994-99.

3.6   LEADER funded 15 projects in Northern Ireland involving economic
      development by non-profit community groups operating under the umbrella of the
      Rural Development Council. The evaluation of LEADER in 1995 concluded that
      the impact of the programme would have been increased by involving a larger
      number of groups – each covering a smaller area – by greater flexibility in the
      nature of projects supported and by increasing the effort devoted to building up
      the capacity of groups. Overall, LEADER was deemed to be a success across
      Europe and lead onto LEADER II.




50
3.7   LEADER II developed new themes of innovation, trans-national co-operation
      between rural areas and networking to share experience. The range of bodies
      which could implement LEADER programmes was expanded into two groups,
      Local Action Groups, which were area based public-private partnerships, and
      other collective groups.

3.8   As well as involving a wider range of groups, LEADER II involved a wiser range
      of activities than its predecessor. There was also a greater emphasis on capacity
      building and innovation.

3.9   There has been no final evaluation of LEADER II but interim evaluation indicates
      that LEADER II led to the creation of almost 200 new businesses while creating
      500 new jobs and sustaining 450 existing jobs. With total spend of around £15
      million (23.25 meuro), these figures suggest that LEADER, while effective, has
      been a relatively expensive employment creating mechanism on a cost per job
      basis. As discussed below, LEADER+ places a high emphasis on job creation,
      which suggests that the need to increase the employment impact of the
      programme has been acknowledged.

3.10 LEADER+ develops on LEADER II in a number other ways, i.e.:

          While innovation was a key feature of LEADER II, the emphasis in
           LEADER+ is on new projects which can be replicated – thus LEADER+
           projects are to have a “pilot” character;

          The emphasis in LEADER II on networking has been broadened out into a
           requirement for various types of co-operation;

          The implementation of LEADER+ is refocusing on Local Action Groups
           with other collective bodies no longer having a role to play at the strategic
           level;

          The funding of LEADER+ has been simplified.

3.11 It is important to recognise that LEADER has developed alongside other rural
     development measures. The first LEADER programme was introduced at about
     the same time as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural
     Development Programme and Strategy and helped to establish the Department’s
     role in rural development. The consistency between LEADER+ and the Rural
     Development Strategy (and other programmes) is considered below.


Assessment of Relevance and Consistency

3.12 The LEADER+ programme must be considered against European level objectives
     and regional “specific objectives” which address the particular problems of the




                                                                                           51
     territory. The consistency between the proposed LEADER+ programme and
     these two sets of objectives is considered below.


European Level Objectives

3.13 At the European level the aim of LEADER+ is to encourage rural populations and
     organisations to think about the long-term sustainable development of their areas
     and to implement high quality original strategies. There is an emphasis on
     developing new ways of:

          Enhancing the natural and cultural heritage;

          Reinforcing the economic environment to create jobs; and

          Improving organisational abilities at the local level.

3.14 Co-operation is a key theme of LEADER+ – at various levels from local to
     international. LEADER+ is also seen as a laboratory in which new approaches to
     integrated and sustainable development will be tested.

3.15 There are three actions specified for LEADER+:

          Support for integrated territorial rural development strategies of a pilot
           nature and based on bottom up approaches and partnerships;

          Support for inter-territorial co-operation; and

          Networking of rural areas.

3.16 The Commission has further identified suggested priority themes for initiatives,
     namely:

          Use of new technology and know how to make rural products and services
           more competitive

          Improving quality of life in rural areas

          Adding value to local products by facilitating access to markets

          Making best use of cultural and natural resources.

3.17 The Commission has also stated that priority should be given to strategies which
     enhance employment prospects for women and young people.




52
3.18 The specific objective of the proposed Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme
     is:

         “To maximise the economic and employment contribution that very small
         businesses, including small farms, make to the rural economy by encouraging
         local partnerships to test out new approaches to micro-business development
         and, where beneficial, to work in collaboration with similar partnerships
         throughout Europe”.

3.19 The relevance and pertinence of that objective to the specific needs of Northern
     Ireland is considered below. Our concern here is with the fit with European Level
     objectives.

3.20 The European level objectives discussed above have been translated here into a
     set of criteria against which the proposed LEADER+ programme has been
     assessed. The results of this process are set out in Table 5. The table states each
     criterion, summarises the relevant aspect of the LEADER+ proposals and
     provides an assessment/commentary on the degree of conformity of the
     LEADER+ proposal with those criteria.

  Table 5: Conformity of LEADER+ Proposals with European Objectives
                               Relevant Feature of           Comment
    European Objective        LEADER+ Proposals
  General
  Sustainability              Discussed under                Defined at broad level in
                              objectives. Selection          programme
                              criterion for strategies
  High Quality/Original       Identified requirement for     Clearly identified priority
  Approaches                  actions to involve
                              innovative approaches.
                              Heavily weighted selection
                              criterion
  Objective
  Enhancement of               Discussed as a priority       Identified as one of a set of
  Natural/Cultural heritage   theme                          alternative themes to which
                                                             strategies must conform.
  Employment Creation         Identified as objective.       High priority
                              Heavily weighted in
                              selection criteria
  Improving Local Capacity    Specific proposals to          Identified weakness in
                              support training for Local     previous LEADER
                              Action Groups. Ability of      programme.
                              Local Action Groups is a
                              selection criterion
  Strategic Integration       Highlighted in discussion of   Strategic Integration
                              objectives. Specific           identified as priority
                              selection criterion
                              programme includes an
                              action to promote co-
                              operation between LAGs




                                                                                             53
     Action
     Integrated Territorial        Identified as specific          Nature of integration not
     Strategies                    action. Programme               discussed in detail
                                   narrative emphasises need
                                   for integration. Selection
                                   criterion.
     Bottom-up Approach            LAG approach is                 Local strategies to be
                                   essentially bottom up.          developed within overall
                                                                   framework
     Inter-territorial             Specific action to promote      High priority
     Co-operation                  inter-LAG co-operation, co-
                                   operation with other UK
                                   areas and north-south co-
                                   operation
     Networking of                 Specific action to support      High priority but not
     Rural Areas                   and promote networking          included in selection
                                   inside and outside              criteria.
                                   Northern Ireland.
     Priority Themes
     New                           Identified in discussion of     No detailed discussion
     Technology                    objectives.
     Quality                       Identified in discussion of     No detailed discussion
     of Life                       objectives.
     Adding Value/Access to        Identified in discussion of     No detailed discussion
     Markets                       objectives.
     Use of Cultural and Natural   Identified in discussion of     No detailed discussion
     Resources                     objectives.
     Support to Priority Groups    Programme document              Heavily weighted strategy
                                   discusses and extends           selection criterion
                                   definition of priority groups

3.21 The overall conclusion of the assessment is that the proposed LEADER+
     programme does conform with the European level objectives. This conclusion
     rests heavily on statements of intent in the programme – i.e. the programme
     identifies relevant aspects of the Commission notice and states an intention to act
     in line with those principles. It is, of course, the case that there are presently no
     specific project or strategy proposals to consider. Given this, the proposed
     selection criteria for Local Action Group proposals are critical since they will
     determine the Local Action Group Strategies chosen.

3.22 The selection criteria do reflect the European objectives of LEADER+. The
     selection process will involve two stages – proposals must first meet a set of
     absolute requirements which concern the structure and organisation of the Local
     Action Group and which require strategies to be based on themes which accord
     with the European level objectives for LEADER. Eligible proposals will then be
     compared against criteria intended to lead to the selection of strategies which are
     integrated, innovative, capable of replication, which promote local partnership and
     which benefit priority groups. Weight is given in the criteria to impacts on
     employment and to the “pilot” nature of strategies. The implementation of these
     criteria will be critical in determining how far the programme accords in practice
     with the European level objectives.




54
Local Needs and Priorities

3.23 The SWOT analysis reported above points to the following development priorities
     for Northern Ireland’s rural areas:

          Human Resources
               Strengthening the skills base both in terms of encouraging higher level
                skills and raising basic skills levels

          Employment Creation
                Providing employment opportunities for younger people and
                 alternative employment/income earning opportunities for farm
                 families

          Business Development
                Improving the capabilities, productivity and survival/growth of small
                 firms
                Diversifying the rural economy away from dependence on agriculture
                Strengthening the tourism sector
                Improving the performance of farm businesses

3.24 We may add that tackling the above issues calls for the development of the
     capability to foster local development. The economy of Rural Northern Ireland
     cannot rely upon “external” solutions such as inward investment (which will tend
     to go to urban areas) but must develop its indigenous capacity and capability.


Target Groups

3.25 The specific target group priorities of LEADER+ are supported by the analysis in
     the previous chapter. Specifically, the analysis demonstrated that:

          Despite much progress, women remain relatively disadvantaged in the rural
           Northern Ireland labour market

          Farm family incomes are low and most farm families require “non-farm”
           income sources

          The problem of long term unemployment appears less tractable in rural than
           in urban areas.

3.26 The evidence on the situation of young people is less clear. Youth unemployment
     appears slightly less prevalent in rural than in urban areas – though it is high in
     absolute terms. Moreover, the relatively low levels of qualifications among the



                                                                                      55
     rural population will affect the employment prospects of younger people as will
     the lower levels of employment opportunity. To a degree, the problem of rural
     unemployment among the young is relieved (or masked) by out-migration.


Structuring of Programme Objectives

3.27 The objectives of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ programme must be seen in the
     context of the Rural Development Strategy for Northern Ireland. Figure 16 below
     sets the objectives of LEADER+ in that context and show the specific strategic
     objectives of LEADER+ as well as the corresponding specific outputs.

 Figure 16: Hierarchy of Objectives

                                Rural Development Strategy
                               To Promote comprehensive and
                          integrated action towards the sustainable
                          and equitable development of rural areas


                                          LEADER+
                                To maximise the economic and
                           employment contribution that very small
                           businesses, including small farms, make
                          to the rural economy by encouraging local
                             partnerships and, where beneficial, to
                               work in collaboration with similar
                                partnerships throughout Europe



         Action 1                       Action 2                             Action 3
      Territorial Rural         Co-operation between Local                  Networking
       Development                    Action Groups


           Outputs                       Outputs                               Outputs
 Increased numbers of small           As with Action 1                    Identification and
            firms                                                       dissemination of best
     Growth of small firms                                                     practice.
  Increased competitiveness                                           Increased effectiveness
        of small firms                                                 in delivery of Actions 1
                                                                                and 2
    Employment creation in
         small firms


3.28 The objectives of LEADER+ form part of a logical structure in that achievement
     of the specific objectives of the Actions would transform into the overall
     LEADER+ aim, and to the overall aim of the Rural Strategy. Because of the
     nature of LEADER+ the specific strategies of the Local Action Groups are not yet
     known and it will be important that specific local strategies have objectives which
     are consistent with the above structure.




56
Expected Impacts

3.29 Given the fact that the specific activities to be carried out under the LEADER+
     programme are not yet known, it is not possible to assess in detail far less quantify
     the expected outputs of the programme. However, experience of the previous
     LEADER programme, and of other programmes, indicates that the programme, if
     successful, should lead to improved performance in the small firms sector with
     measurable impacts on the rate of new starts, the survival of small firms, the level
     of employment and output in small firms.


Complementarity with Other Programmes

3.30 It is important to bear in mind that the LEADER+ programme is one element of
     the Northern Ireland rural development strategy. LEADER+ cannot and does not
     aim to tackle all of the development needs of Northern Ireland. Rather, the aim of
     LEADER+ is to address issues which are not being fully addressed elsewhere as
     well as to develop a process of local capacity building which includes networking
     and to “test bed” innovative approaches.

3.31 The LEADER+ programme is focussed specifically on the development of (very)
     small businesses. In assessing the programme it is necessary to ask (a) whether
     that issue is a priority for the development of the area and (b) whether the decision
     to focus narrowly is justified by the existence of other programmes covering other
     development priorities.

3.32 LEADER+ also has identified target group priorities – women, young people,
     farm families and long term unemployed and it is necessary to consider the
     justification for this focus.

3.33 The key programmes and strategies being implemented in Northern Ireland, and
     which will affect the context within which LEADER+ operates, are:

           The Northern Ireland Community Support Framework (CSF) 2000-2006

           The Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity

           The Peace II Programme

           INTERREG III

           The Equal Programme

3.34 It is clear that LEADER+ is consistent with the aims of the CSF which includes
     under it main themes the development of small businesses, addressing problems
     of low wage employment, broadening the base of female employment, developing
     rural communities and fostering local regeneration initiatives. These are all
     themes to be found in the LEADER+ strategy.



                                                                                       57
3.35 A detailed account of the other programmes is provided in the LEADER+
     programme and will not be duplicated here. The focus of consideration here is, as
     indicated above, whether LEADER+ will overlap with, complement or create
     synergy with those other programmes.

3.36 Table 6 considers the development priorities of the Rural Development Strategy
     and seeks to place LEADER+ in context by identifying policies/programmes
     addressed to those issues in the rural context.

        Table 6: Development Priorities and Programmes in Rural Northern Ireland

         Priority                     Programme                      LEADER+ Impact

 Strengthening Skills      Targeted Training (PEACE II)
                           Building Sustainable Prosperity-
                           Agriculture and Rural
                           Development

 Employment Creation       Building Sustainable Prosperity    Identified priority. Employment
                                                              creation through small business
                           INTERREG

 Alternative Incomes for   Skills for farmers (PEACE II)      Business Development includes
 Farm Families                                                Agricultural businesses

 Small Firms Growth        Building Sustainable Prosperity    LEADER focuses on very small
                           – Developing Entrepreneurship      firms. It will be important that
                                                              specific measures are designed
                           INTERREG – Entrepreneurship
                                                              to complement and not overlap
                           PEACE II – Support to              with Building Sustainable
                           Enterprise                         Prosperity, INTERREG and
                                                              PEACE II measures.
                           EQUAL - Entrepreneurship

 Diversification of Farm   May be supported by Building       Small business development will
 Economy                   Sustainable Prosperity             support diversification
                           INTERREG

 Tourism Development       PEACE II

 Improving Farm            Rural Development Plan and         Included in small firms sector
 Businesses                Agriculture measures in Building
                           Sustainable Prosperity


3.37 The LEADER+ programme will address a number of the identified development
     priorities, especially on small firms growth. It is clear that a number of
     programmes intend to support the development of entrepreneurship and this must
     be seen as giving rise to the danger of overlap and duplication in actions. More
     positively, the cross programme focus on entrepreneurship serves to create
     opportunities for synergy.




58
3.38 To ensure complementarity and to prevent any possibility of overlap or
     duplication with other Programmes, Leader Action Groups will be required to
     establish close working relationships with relevant Government Departments,
     agencies, local authorities, and other relevant organisations operating in their area.
     These bodies should be consulted in the preparation of the Development Strategy
     and account taken of their plans, programmes and activities. Furthermore, this
     consultation process, and its outcome, must be recorded in the Development
     Strategy. LAGs are also encouraged to engage these bodies in their operations, at
     Board/ sub-committee level at least. At local level, the Department of Agriculture
     and Rural Development’s Rural Area Co-ordinators (RAC’s) will have a key role
     in co-ordinating the operation of LEADER + activities and the measures of
     mainstream Programmes. This will ensure a strategic approach to rural
     regeneration at the local level, prevent the double funding of individual projects
     and facilitate complementarity.

3.39 LEADER II has a distinctive focus on firms in rural areas and, less exclusively, on
     very small firms/start ups. Until concrete project proposals come forward, these
     dangers and opportunities are somewhat theoretical. The key requirement is not
     that firms are to be assisted from only one programme but rather that actual
     initiatives are designed to ensure that the same target businesses are not offered
     similar assistance by different programmes and that the programmes design
     assistance measures which “dovetail” from the standpoint of the assisted
     businesses (e.g. complementary support in training, finance and business advice).

3.40 It can be concluded that the LEADER+ proposals are consistent with the
     development needs of rural Northern Ireland. The risks of overlap are real but
     controllable and there are countervailing opportunities for synergy.

3.41 The degree to which LEADER+ will, in practice, complement and develop
     synergy with other programmes will depend upon the content of the actual
     strategies selected, but the overall framework is consistent with achievement of
     complementarity and synergy.


Appraisal of Implementation Arrangements

3.42 The issues to be considered under the implementation arrangements are:

           Relevance of the resource allocation to the defined objectives

           The programming, procedures, selection criteria and financing conditions

           Information arrangements

           Monitoring and evaluation arrangements




                                                                                        59
Resource Allocation

3.43 There is only limited information available at present in relation to resource
     allocation. Of the available funds, 86% are to be allocated to Action 1 – which
     will be the financing of Local Action Groups. Co-operation will receive 11% of
     the funds and networking 2%. Management, monitoring and evaluation will
     receive 1%.

3.44 It is appropriate that the bulk of the finance should be applied to Action 1 since
     this is the Action which will impact directly upon the rural economy.


3.45 The Networking budget is effectively determined by National Networking
     arrangements and the allocation for Management is as low as is practical. There
     is, therefore, limited scope for variation.

3.46 The resource allocation proposals appear appropriate so far as can be judged at
     this point.


Criteria and Procedures

3.47 Procedures and criteria for the selection of Local Action Groups have been set
     down in detail. These procedures conform with the Commission Notice laying
     down guidelines for LEADER+. Selection will be undertaken by a broadly based
     assessment panel.

3.48 Groups will be selected by a two stage procedure in which they must first satisfy
     basic eligibility criteria before being tested against selection criteria. The
     eligibility criteria are derived from Commission guidance. In addition, Northern
     Ireland applications must not overlap with the areas covered by other groups and
     must be committed to participation in networking and co-operation.

3.49 The Selection Criteria amount to 14, ten of which are derived from Commission
     guidance and four of which are concerned with specific issues in Northern Ireland.
     These specific issues – scale of employment impact, participation of the whole
     rural community, impact on disadvantaged groups and equal opportunities issues
     – are appropriate in view of the economic and social situation in rural Northern
     Ireland.

3.50 The criteria are weighted so that greatest importance is given to impacts on
     employment with relatively high priority given to impacts on target groups, the
     capabilities of the Local Action Group and the “pilot” nature of the initiative.

3.51 The selection criteria are detailed, transparent and appropriate to the programme.




60
3.52 It intended to make a call for proposals in November, with groups allowed 13
     weeks to prepare submissions. This is a fairly short period but would appear to be
     adequate given that groups are already in existence with accumulated experience.


Information and Publicity

3.53 The information available on publicity is presently fairly formal. The Department
     of Agriculture and Rural Development intends to implement measures
     conforming to the relevant Commission Regulations. A “communications plan”
     setting out these measures is to be prepared.


Monitoring and Evaluation

3.54 The main aim of the proposed LEADER+ programme is to foster rural
     development through support to the small business sector. At the same time, it is
     intended that this development should benefit a number of target groups. The
     programmes is also to promote innovation and networking

3.55 If the programme is to be effectively monitored and evaluated, it will be necessary
     to establish:

          The degree to which the programme is directing its resources to small
           business

          The impact on the assisted firm

          The impact on the structure and performance of the rural economy

          The impacts of any improved performance on target groups

          The degree to which LEADER+ projects are replicated elsewhere

          The degree of networking and co-operation

3.56 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has prepared a suite of
     indicators to meet these requirements.

          The output of the programme will be assessed by the number of new
           businesses created or expanding with aid from LEADER+. The
           involvement of members of target groups in these firms is to be measured.
           Co-operation and networking are to be measured by group participation in
           co-operation and networking projects. All of the above indicators are to be
           measured twice yearly.

          Results are to be assessed in terms of the employment, output and survival
           of small businesses assisted by the programme. Employment for target



                                                                                     61
             groups is to be measured. The results of networking are to be measured in
             terms of perceived benefits on the part of LAGs. These data are to be
             gathered twice yearly.

            Impacts are to be assessed with reference to measurable changes in the
             structure and scale of the small firms sector in rural areas, by maintained
             employment for target groups in assisted projects and by the “transfer” of
             project models between the LAGs and other local groups in the UK and EU.

3.57 It is considered that sound foundations for evaluation and monitoring have been
     laid.

Environment

3.58 Northern Ireland’s environment is an important regional development asset. A
     description of the Northern Ireland environment is contained in Annex 6.

Monitoring and evaluation

3.59 Structural funds programmes cannot, in themselves, transform the environmental
     profile of an entire region. However, in promoting sustainable activities, they can
     exert a positive influence on the regional environment and provide an example of
     the sustainable development model. The impact of this Programme will be
     monitored primarily by reviewing activities carried out under the programme itself
     rather than changes in the regional environment over the life of the Programme.
     The regional environment will be monitored primarily so as to show the context in
     which the Programme is operating.

3.60 The mainstreaming of environmental sustainability will be monitored over the life
     of this programme using a guide suggested by DG Regional policy in its working
     papers on the monitoring and evaluation of Structural Funds Programmes.4 The
     guide sets out a number of monitoring and evaluation techniques developed as
     part of DG Regional Policy’s thematic evaluation of the environmental impact of
     the 1994-99 round of Structural Funds support. Two of these techniques -
     Development Path Analysis and Key Environmental Criteria – will be used to
     monitor this Programme.

3.61 It is intended that an initial development path analysis will be carried out at the
     programme complement stage and that annual analyses will be carried out
     throughout the life of the Programme as part of ongoing Programme monitoring.
     In this way, the environmental direction of the Programme’s development strategy
     can be identified and, if necessary, corrective action taken.



4
 Environment and Sustainable development: a guide for the ex-ante evaluation of the environmental
impact of regional development programmes, Evaluation Documents 6, DG Regional policy, May 1999.



62
63
                                   CHAPTER 4

       OBJECTIVES OF LEADER+ IN NORTHERN IRELAND

VISION AND OVERALL AIM OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND RURAL
DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR 2000-2006


4.1   The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be an integral part of the
      Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s wider Rural Development
      Programme for the period 2000-2006. It will therefore contribute to the vision
      and overall aim of that Programme and to the overall development of rural
      society.

                      Vision of Rural Development Programme



                   Overall Aim of Rural Development Programme



              Objectives of Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme



                          Objectives of LEADER+ Actions



                    Objectives of LEADER+ Local Action Groups



                          Objectives of supported projects



4.2   The Rural Development Programme’s vision for Northern Ireland’s rural areas is
      for: “A healthy and diverse economic and social environment where the quality
      of life is enhanced by quality of opportunity.”

4.3   The overall aim for the Rural Development Programme is: “To promote
      comprehensive and integrated action towards the sustainable and equitable
      development of rural areas and, in doing so, contribute to the economic,
      environmental, social and cultural well being of the rural community for the
      benefit of the whole community of Northern Ireland.”




64
OBJECTIVE OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND LEADER+ PROGRAMME


4.4   The objective of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme must fit with the
      objectives for the Initiative at European level as set out in paragraph 8 of the
      Commission Notice to Member States of 14 April 2000 laying down guidelines
      for LEADER+ (OJ C 139, 18.5.2000, p.5). That paragraph reads as follows:

          “The new initiative will complement the mainstream programmes by
          promoting integrated schemes conceived and implemented by active
          partnerships operating at the local level.

          The aim of Leader+ is to encourage and help rural actors to think about the
          longer term potential of their area. It seeks to encourage the implementation of
          integrated, high quality, original strategies for sustainable development
          designed to encourage experimenting with new ways of:
              enhancing the natural and cultural heritage,
              reinforcing the economic environment, in order to contribute to job
               creation,
              improving the organisational abilities of their community.

          ‘Cooperation’ in the broad sense of the term will be a fundamental component
          of Leader+. The Commission will provide support for the establishment of
          quality partnerships between the various actors. Cooperation must be created
          within rural areas, between such areas in the same Member State, between rural
          areas in several Member States and even beyond if necessary.

          As a result, Leader+ will continue its roles as a laboratory which aims to
          encourage the emergence and testing of new approaches to integrated and
          sustainable development that will influence, complete and/or reinforce rural
          development policy in the Community. Member States are asked to participate
          in this experimentation effort when presenting their proposals.

          These new rural development models will be exploited and disseminated
          through a major networking exercise.”

4.5   Therefore, the objective of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme should
      reflect:
             the need to ensure complementarity with mainstream rural development
              programmes;
             the delivery of LEADER+ by locally based partnerships;
             the fundamental role of co-operation and networking in the LEADER
              initiative; and
             LEADER’s role as a ‘laboratory’ for rural areas.



                                                                                         65
4.6   As indicated in paragraph 4.1, LEADER+ will be an integral element of the
      Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural Development
      Programme for 2000-2006. To meet the first of the requirements listed in
      paragraph 4.5, it is important that the objective for the Northern Ireland
      LEADER+ Programme reflects the distinctive contribution that the Initiative can
      make to rural development in the region.

4.7   With its Rural Development Programme, the Department of Agriculture and Rural
      Development aims to create a comprehensive and integrated programme of
      measures that will be able to tackle the widest possible range of needs and
      opportunities in the region’s rural areas and support the widest possible range of
      worthwhile and beneficial projects. At the same time, it hopes to clearly define
      the objectives, roles and responsibilities of the different elements to avoid
      confusion, overlap and possible duplication of effort.

4.8   The various elements of the Rural Development Programme are explained in more
      detail in paragraphs 4.24 to 4.26. In summary, the other elements of the Strategy
      will provide support for: the development of rural communities; projects
      developed by locally based community groups and collective bodies; sectors of
      the economy, environment, culture and society; and rural tourism.

4.9   Within the Programme, therefore, there is a need for a programme that can
      provide support for the development of the private sector, particularly very small
      businesses, in rural areas. The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will
      therefore focus on the European level objective of reinforcing the economic
      environment, in order to contribute to job creation. It is considered that other
      mainstream rural development programmes adequately cover the other two
      objectives – enhancing the natural and cultural heritage and improving the
      organisational abilities of the community.

4.10 The experience of previous rural development operations in Northern Ireland and
     the results of the consultation process show that this is a function that is best
     delivered at a local level. The detailed knowledge of locally based partnerships
     allows them to respond more effectively and efficiently to the needs of small
     projects than a centrally managed programme covering the whole of the region.

4.11 In this context, it is considered that the objective for the Northern Ireland
     LEADER+ Programme should be:

         To increase the economic and employment contribution that very small
         businesses, including small farms, make to the rural economy by
         encouraging local partnerships to test out new approaches to micro-business
         development and, where beneficial, to work in collaboration with similar
         partnerships in other rural areas.




66
4.12 This objective reflects the distinctive contribution that LEADER+ can make to
     rural development in Northern Ireland through its focus on very small businesses,
     while at the same time recognising the importance at a European level of its
     delivery by local partnerships and the concepts of co-operation and LEADER’s
     role as a laboratory for rural development.


STRATEGY TO ACHIEVE THE OBJECTIVE


4.13 The delivery of LEADER+ will be delegated to Local Action Groups, thereby
     supporting local communities in their efforts to devise local solution to the issues
     effecting their areas. To assist in building the organisational capacity of rural
     areas and to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Northern Ireland
     LEADER+ Programme, Local Action Groups will be encouraged to invest in
     training and development activities for their Board members and staff.

4.14 In order to maximise the economic and employment contribution that very small
     businesses make to the rural economy, LEADER+ will support rural businesses
     with fewer than 10 employees.

4.15 In recognition of the important role that agriculture plays in the rural economy,
     farms will be treated as small businesses, although support for projects on farms
     will only be provided subject to paragraph 9.16 .

4.16 To increase the impact that LEADER+ makes on economic and social conditions
     in Northern Ireland’s rural areas, Local Action Groups will be encouraged to
     identify, target and work proactively with the communities and social groups in
     their areas that exhibit the greatest levels of need and disadvantage. In particular,
     the LEADER+ Programme will focus on the following target groups:
           Women
           Young people
           Farmers and farm families
           The long-term unemployed

4.17 In order to further the experimentation started under LEADER and LEADER II
     and maintain the Initiative’s role as a kind of ‘laboratory’ for rural development,
     Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland will be encouraged to look for new,
     original and ambitious ways of pursuing their own objectives and the aims of the
     Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme. This may involve encouraging new
     economic activities in their areas or devising a new approach to stimulating
     business creation and growth in their areas.

4.18 Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland will be encouraged to participate fully in
     networking activities in order that the experiences and lessons gained from the



                                                                                         67
     implementation of LEADER can be shared. Local Action Groups will be
     encouraged to network with other groups inside Northern Ireland, in the rest of the
     United Kingdom, in the Republic of Ireland and in the rest of the European Union.

4.19 Local Action Groups will be encouraged to form close working relationships with
     and draw on the expertise of other agencies and bodies active in the business
     development field, particularly the Local Enterprise Agencies, the Local
     Enterprise Development Unit and the Economic Development Offices of District
     Councils.

4.20 Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland will be encouraged to develop co-
     operation projects with each other, with other locally based partnership bodies in
     Northern Ireland and with Local Action Groups in other EU regions.

4.21 To maximise the impact of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme, Local
     Action Groups will be selected and allocated funding through a competitive
     selection process.

4.22 Local Action Groups will be required to take full account of the need to promote
     equality of opportunity in all of their activities.


LINKS WITH OTHER RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES


4.23 In addition to LEADER+, there will be a number of programmes, plans and
     measures in Northern Ireland that have an impact on rural development over the
     period 2000-2006. These are:
          The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural
           Development Programme for 2000-2006;
          The measures of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable
           Prosperity aimed at the development of the agri-food industry; and
          The Rural Development Plan (which covers the ‘accompanying measures’
           of the Rural Development Regulation).


The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural Development
Programme for 2000-2006

4.24 As indicated in paragraph 4.1, LEADER+ will be an integral part of the Rural
     Development Programme for 2000-2006.


4.25 With this Programme, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will
     create a comprehensive and integrated programme of measures for rural
     development in the region for the next six years. The intention is to put in place a
     programme that will be able to tackle the widest possible range of needs and



68
     opportunities in Northern Ireland’s rural areas and support the widest possible
     range of worthwhile and beneficial projects.

4.26 The different elements of the Programme have been grouped together under five
     headings, one of which – micro-business development – will be addressed by the
     Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.

     1.    Capacity Building - The development of high skill levels among rural
           people and rural communities is the foundation upon which measures to
           address the threats and opportunities facing rural areas will be built. The
           Capacity Building element of the Programme will help to strengthen rural
           communities and provide rural people with the skills, knowledge and
           experience that they need to play a part in the significant economic,
           environmental and social changes impacting on rural areas. There will be
           four measures in the Capacity Building element of the Programme.
                Support for community development – This measure will help to
                 extend and develop community-based activity in rural areas. This will
                 involve providing support for early capacity building work with
                 community groups and extending community based activity to areas
                 of weak community infrastructure. The funding for this measure will
                 come from Priority 4 of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building
                 Sustainable Prosperity .
                Support for the development of regeneration projects – This measure
                 will help local groups to plan and manage regeneration projects. This
                 will involve providing project development advice and support,
                 technical planning, etc. The funding for this measure will come from
                 Priority 4 of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building
                 Sustainable Prosperity.
                Support for skills enhancement in farm families – This measure will
                 reskill and build the capacity of farmers, their spouses and others
                 engaged in agriculture to help them secure off-farm employment or
                 develop new non-traditional on-farm enterprises. This will involve:
                 identifying possible employment or diversification opportunities and
                 promoting the education and training needed to avail of those
                 opportunities; supporting vocational training programmes;
                 identifying and evaluating new markets and new business or product
                 development opportunities; supporting “model units” to demonstrate
                 best practice; and supporting the adoption of ICT or innovative
                 technology as tools to assist disciplined production and marketing.
                 The funding for this measure will come from the Economic Renewal
                 and Transition (EAGGF) Measure of the Peace II Programme.
                Building the capacity of rural development organisations – This
                 measure will help to develop the skills and knowledge of those
                 actively engaged in rural development work, such as community
                 development workers, and provide support for the investigation of
                 various aspects of rural development policy. The funding for this



                                                                                         69
               measure will come from Priority 4 of the Northern Ireland Programme
               for Building Sustainable Prosperity.

     2.   Local Regeneration Projects and Programmes - The aim of implementing
          regeneration projects and programmes is to bring about a sustainable
          improvement in economic, environmental and social conditions in rural
          communities. This element of the Programme will provide the resources
          rural people need to achieve this improvement in conditions in their areas.
          There will be three measures under the heading of Local Regeneration
          Projects and Programmes.
              Support for local regeneration projects and programmes promoted by
               non-profit taking community groups and collective bodies – financial
               assistance will be available for programmes of economic,
               environmental and social activities in local communities as well as
               single projects. Cross-border projects will also be eligible. Most of
               the funding for this measure will come from Priority 4 of the
               Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable
               Prosperity, with cross border projects being funded by the
               INTERREG III Initiative.
              Support for local regeneration projects and programmes promoted by
               profit-taking collective bodies – financial assistance will be available
               for programmes of economic, environmental and social activities in
               local communities as well as single projects. Cross-border projects
               will also be eligible. Most of the funding for this measure will come
               from Priority 4 of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building
               Sustainable Prosperity, with cross border projects being funded by
               the INTERREG III Initiative.
              Support for local peace and reconciliation projects – financial
               assistance will be available for single projects and programmes of
               economic, environmental and social activities that have the specific
               aim of promoting peace and reconciliation in rural communities. The
               funding for this measure will come from the Social Integration,
               Inclusion and Reconciliation (EAGGF) Measure of the Peace II
               Programme.

     3.   Sectoral or Regional Development Projects and Programmes – This
          element of the Programme will provide support for projects and
          programmes designed to tackle specific economic, environmental or social
          needs or opportunities that can be best tackled by area-based or Province-
          wide projects or programmes rather than a series projects in local
          communities. Cross-border projects will also be supported. The funding for
          this element of the Strategy will mainly come Priority 4 of the Northern
          Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity, with cross border
          projects being funded by the INTERREG III Initiative. Funding for sectoral
          projects linked to peace and reconciliation will also be provided through the




70
           Economic Renewal and Transition (EAGGF) measure of the Peace II
           Programme.

     4.    Natural Resource Rural Tourism – One of the many adverse consequences
           of the conflict in Northern Ireland has been low visitor numbers, resulting in
           an under-developed tourism industry in rural areas. In particular, the
           tourism potential of the region’s natural resources has remained largely
           untapped and the investment necessary to provide the infrastructure, skills
           and facilities that form the core of a sustainable tourism product has not
           materialised. This element of the programme is a special programme
           designed to help Northern Ireland's rural population, comprising both
           communities, to take advantage of the opportunity to work together that is
           presented by the potential growth in tourism. Cross-community
           partnerships working together will, within five years, help to put in place
           some of the tourism infrastructure that would have developed over the last
           thirty years in absence of the conflict. To secure the maximum possible
           benefit from this special funding provided by the Peace and Reconciliation
           Programme, Natural Resource Rural Tourism will be targeted on
           disadvantaged rural areas with the greatest potential for tourism and for
           which the outcome will make the greatest possible contribution to the aims
           of the Peace and Reconciliation Programme.

     5.    Micro-Business Development – This is the element of the Programme that
           will be addressed by the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.


Measures for the development of the agri-food industry

4.27 For the purposes of the Rural Development Regulation, Northern Ireland is treated
     as an Objective 1 region. Priority 4 of the Northern Ireland Programme for
     Building Sustainable Prosperity includes those activities under Title II,
     Chapters I to VIII of the Rural Development Regulation that are funded by the
     EAGGF Guidance Section in Objective 1 areas.

4.28 The Measure will focus on encouraging investment to develop new skills and
     competences and to improve competitiveness in the agri-food and forestry sectors.
     The activities that will be undertaken under the measure are:
          Improving competitiveness in the rural economy through improving
           business management and technical skills by training programmes tailored
           to meet industry needs;
          Encouraging innovation and investment in the agri-food sector through
           grant-aid for capital projects;
          Improving the take-up of new or improved technologies by supporting their
           development demonstration and embedding into agri-food businesses;




                                                                                      71
          Supporting greater integration and collaboration between producers,
           processors and others in the food chain by providing grant aid towards non-
           capital projects; and
          Extending woodland areas on non-agricultural land through grant aid
           towards planting, initial maintenance costs and assistance for projects that
           promote the sustainable development of existing forests.

The Northern Ireland Rural Development Plan (Accompanying Measures Plan)

4.29 The Northern Ireland Rural Development Plan includes those activities under
     Title II, Chapters I to VIII of the Rural Development Regulation that are funded
     by the EAGGF Guarantee Section in Objective 1 areas (that is, the ‘accompanying
     measures’). The Plan has three main priorities:
          an agri-environment programme;
          a programme for the Less Favoured Areas;
          a forestry programme;

     1.    Agri-Environment Measures – In Northern Ireland, three agri-environment
           measures have been proposed: the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA)
           Scheme; the Countryside Management Scheme (CMS) and the Organic
           Farming Scheme (OFS). These measures will promote the conservation and
           enhancement of rural landscapes and assist in reducing the levels of
           agricultural pollution. In addition, by contributing directly and indirectly to
           economic activity, they will support the sustainable development of rural
           areas.
                Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Scheme – The ESA Scheme
                 was Northern Ireland’s first on-farm agri-environment scheme. The
                 aim of the ESA Scheme is to encourage environmentally sensitive
                 farming practices to maintain and enhance areas of the countryside
                 where the landscape, wildlife or historical heritage is of particular
                 importance. The ESA Scheme has proved highly successful in raising
                 environmental awareness, changing attitudes and perceptions and
                 delivering real environmental benefits. Just over 4,500 farmers
                 currently participate in the Scheme.
                Countryside Management Scheme (CMS) - The CMS is a recently
                 devised Scheme aimed at encouraging farmers in areas outside the
                 designated ESA areas to positively manage habitats, improve water
                 quality, enhance the landscape and protect heritage, by integrating
                 good farming practice with the care and protection of the
                 environment. Based on early experience, the CMS will be heavily
                 oversubscribed and, therefore, it will target those farms that can
                 provide the greatest environmental benefit consistent with value for
                 money.
                Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) – The OFS aims to aid conversion to
                 organic farming, to encourage the development of the organic



72
                 production sector in Northern Ireland and to help farmers adjust to
                 new market opportunities.

     2.    Support for Less Favoured Areas – The proposed Less Favoured Areas
           Compensatory Allowances Scheme is a compensation measure for naturally
           less favoured areas (LFA) and it replaces the Hill Livestock Compensatory
           Allowances (HLCAs) Scheme. The new Scheme is area-based, thereby
           significantly decoupling payments from production. It is also subject to
           environmental conditions. The beneficiaries will, however, continue to be
           suckler cow and sheep producers in the LFA, thus pursuing a primary
           objective of maintaining traditional farming activities and, thereby, a viable
           rural community in the LFA. The Scheme is also designed to contribute to
           the objective of Targeting Social Need by differentiating payment rates in
           favour of the Severely Disadvantaged Areas in recognition of their
           additional physical and social disadvantage.

     3.    Forestry Programme – The main aims of the programme will be to extend
           the land area under afforestation and to encourage sustainable management
           of existing woodland, thereby providing a wide range of economic,
           environmental and social benefits. The programme will involve the
           Woodland Grant Scheme, which will provide a range of planting and
           management grants, and the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, which will
           further encourage the creation of new woodland on farms by offering annual
           payments to compensate for agricultural income foregone.


The Relationship Between Rural Development Programmes

4.30 The Relationship between the measures outlined above, the Rural Development
     Regulation and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural
     Development Programme for 2000-2006 is illustrated in Figure 17.


Synergy Between LEADER+ and the Other Rural Development Programmes.

4.31 As indicated in paragraph 4.12, LEADER+ will make a distinctive contribution to
     rural development in Northern Ireland. However, it will also be an integral part of
     a comprehensive and co-ordinated package of measures for Northern Ireland’s
     rural areas for the period 2000 to 2006 in which all of the measures complement
     each other and contribute to the success of the package as a whole.

4.32 As indicated in paragraphs 4.9 to 4.12, the distinctive contribution that LEADER+
     will make to rural development in Northern Ireland arises from its focus on very
     small businesses. No other aspect of the support for rural areas will have this
     focus.

4.33 Although the various rural development programmes and measures will retain
     their own distinctive roles and objectives, there will be strong synergy between



                                                                                        73
     them. This can be clearly seen in the opportunities for co-ordinated action
     involving LEADER+ and the ‘Skills Enhancement For Farm Families’ measure of
     Capacity Building, which will be funded by the Peace II Programme.




74
Figure 17: The relationship between the various rural development measures and programmes in Northern Ireland, the Rural Development
Regulation and the Rural Development Programme for 2000-2006.

 Rural Development Plan       Agri-food Development             Rural Development
  (the ‘Accompanying            Measures (Northern           Measures (Northern Ireland         Peace II Programme         Community Initiatives
     Measures’ Plan)           Ireland Programme for          Programme for Building
                                 Building Sustainable         Sustainable Prosperity)
1. Agri-Environment                   Prosperity)                                            1. Capacity Building         1.   LEADER+
   measures                                                 1. Capacity Building                 Skills enhancement
    Environmentally         1. Business management             Community                         in farm families       2. INTERREG III
      Sensitive Areas           and technical skills              development                                                 Cross-border
    Countryside                training                        Development of              2. Local Peace and                 regeneration
      Management                                                  regeneration projects         Reconciliation Projects         projects by non-
      Scheme                 2. Capital grants for agri-        Building the capacity of                                       profit taking
    Organic Farming            food projects                     rural development          3. Sectoral Peace and              groups
      Scheme                                                      organisations                 Reconciliation Projects       Cross-border
                             3. Technology transfer
                                                                                                                                regeneration
2. Support for Less                                         2. Local Regeneration            4. Natural Resource Rural          projects by profit
   Favoured Areas            4. Non-capital grants to          Projects and Programmes          Tourism                         taking collectives
                                assist integration in the       Projects by non-profit                                       Cross-border
3. Forestry measures            food chain                        taking groups                                                 sectoral and area-
    Woodland Grant                                             Projects by profit                                             based
      Scheme                 5. Off-farm forestry                 taking collectives                                            development
    Farm Woodland                                                                                                              projects and
      Premium Scheme                                        3. Sectoral and Area-Based                                          programmes
                                                               Development Projects and
                                                               Programmes



                          The Rural Development Regulation



                                                                                  The Rural Development Programme 2000-2006




                                                                                                                                                     75
4.34 The ‘Skills Enhancement For Farm Families’ measure will help to build the
     capacity of farmers and farm families, thereby helping them to secure off-farm
     employment or develop new non-traditional on-farm enterprises. Farmers and
     farm families will be helped to:

      (a)   identify possible employment or diversification opportunities; and

      (b)   identify and evaluate new markets and new business or product
            development opportunities.

      They will also be helped to identify and access the education and training needed
      to avail of those opportunities.

4.35 Because the focus of LEADER+ will be on very small businesses, including small
     farms, it will complement the work of the ‘Skills Enhancement For Farm
     Families’ measure. It will provide an important source of the funding that will be
     required to realise the opportunities identified by farmers and farm families that
     have gone through the capacity building activities. Therefore, although they are
     clearly distinct from one another, it will be possible to create a strong synergy
     between the two programmes.

4.36 The Natural Resource Rural Tourism initiative will operate on the ‘LEADER
     model’ insofar as it will be delivered in the five target areas by locally based
     partnerships representative of the local community. These delivery partnerships
     will be encouraged to play a full and active role in the LEADER network. This
     will assist in developing strong links between the two programmes, thereby
     helping to co-ordinate their strategies and the projects that they support.

4.37 To ensure complementarity and to prevent any possibility of overlap or
     duplication with other Programmes, Leader Action Groups will be required to
     establish close working relationships with relevant Government Departments,
     agencies, local authorities, and other relevant organisations operating in their area.
     These bodies should be consulted in the preparation of the Development Strategy
     and account taken of their plans, programmes and activities. Furthermore, this
     consultation process, and its outcome, must be recorded in the Development
     Strategy. LAGs are also encouraged to engage these bodies in their operations, at
     Board/ sub-committee level at least. At local level, the Department of Agriculture
     and Rural Development’s Rural Area Co-ordinators (RAC’s) will have a key role
     in co-ordinating the operation of LEADER + activities and the measures of
     mainstream Programmes. This will ensure a strategic approach to rural
     regeneration at the local level, prevent the double funding of individual projects
     and facilitate complementarity.




76
THE POLICY CONTEXT


The Regional Development Strategy

4.38       The Regional Development Strategy is the overarching policy framework for the
           development of Northern Ireland. It offers a strategic and long-term perspective
           of the future development of Northern Ireland up to the year 2025. The
           promotion of sustainable development aligned to social and economic cohesion
           is an integral part of that perspective. It is an important reference document for
           Government Departments in the development of policies and programmes and
           the setting of funding priorities.

4.39       The Regional Development Strategy’s vision for Northern Ireland is for “An
           outward looking, dynamic and liveable region where people live and work in a
           healthy environment which enhances the quality of their lives and where
           diversity is a source of strength”. The Rural Development Programme’s vision
           for rural areas (see paragraph 4.2) is clearly fits with this overall vision for the
           region.

4.40 The Regional Development Strategy has seven guiding principles. These are:
              A people and community focused approach
              An integrated approach
              The reconciliation of growth and quality of life
              A sustainable approach to the environment
              Equality of opportunity and equity of treatment
              Spatial equity
              Partnerships and Networks

4.41 These guiding principles are clearly reflected in the objectives, Actions, priority
     themes, priority groups and selection criteria of the Northern Ireland LEADER+
     Programme. In particular, the ‘bottom-up’ delivery of LEADER+ by Local
     Action Groups fits well with the guiding principles on ‘a people and community
     focused approach’, ‘an integrated approach’, ‘spatial equity’ and ‘partnerships and
     networks’.


New Targeting Social Need

4.42 The New Targeting Social Need (New TSN) policy seeks to tackle disadvantage
     by directing the efforts and resources of Government policies and programmes
     towards individuals, groups and areas objectively defined as being in greatest
     need.




                                                                                              77
4.43 In March 1998, the Government published a White Paper entitled “Partnership for
     Equality”. This considered Northern Ireland’s fair employment laws and what
     could be done to reduce unemployment. It also considered what the Government
     could do, through the broad range of its programmes, to make Northern Ireland a
     fairer and more equal society. New TSN was one of the approaches set out in the
     White Paper.

4.44 The White Paper stated that New TSN would operate in three linked ways:
     1.    It would have a special focus on the problems of unemployed people and on
           increasing their chances of finding a job. Job creation was cited as the most
           effective way of tackling unemployment, although other activities, such as
           helping local community efforts to create employment and working within
           the educational system to help those at risk of becoming the next generation
           of unemployed, were also highlighted.

     2.    It would target other sorts of social need, which may not be directly related
           to unemployment. For example, there is inequality in health, housing and
           education and there are areas, both in cities and in the country, which are
           clearly disadvantaged and need special help. Tackling these inequalities
           should have the effect of materially benefiting the most deprived sections of
           the community.
     3.    It would include a special initiative called Promoting Social Inclusion (PSI),
           a new agenda of action to identify and tackle the factors which contribute to
           social exclusion in Northern Ireland. PSI will seek new and creative ways
           of helping people who are disadvantaged in several ways, to such an extent
           that they cannot enjoy the full range of life opportunities that most people
           take for granted.

4.45 New TSN requires Departments and agencies to review all of their policies,
     programmes and funding priorities to identify any possibilities for targeting social
     need and inequality. Taking account of the nature of the programmes concerned,
     the resources available and objective measures of need available, Departments
     must decide how they will define the individuals, groups and areas of greatest
     need and identify how targeting can be more precise and its impact more
     effective.

4.46 The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme takes account of the Department of
     Agriculture and Rural Development’s obligations under New TSN. In particular,
     the Programme will have a focus on job creation and the long-term unemployed
     have been included as one of the priority groups for Action 1. In addition, the
     degree of disadvantage of the areas that they cover will be one of the criteria used
     to select Local Action Groups.


Strategy 2010




78
4.47 Strategy 2010 is the report by the Northern Ireland Economic Development
     Strategy Review Steering Group. The Strategy’s vision of the kind of economy
     Northern Ireland should aspire to build over the next decade is of a “A fast
     growing, competitive, innovative, knowledge-based economy where there are
     plentiful opportunities and a population equipped to grasp them.”

4.48 Strategy 2010 outlines the following key principles, which should underlie and
     shape the economic development strategy.

          Equality and Social Cohesion – The Strategy proposes the development of
           specific measures to encourage the creation of a more inclusive economy
           based on increased employment opportunities and the removal of barriers to
           employment. This will include positive strategies to meet the needs of
           disadvantaged groups and achieve a reasonable balance of economic
           development activities across Northern Ireland.

          Knowledge-based – The Strategy recognises the need to drive Northern
           Ireland towards a knowledge based economy and the need for firms to
           compete on the basis of quality, of new and better designed products and of
           improved processes and organisation. It argues that action must be focused
           on improving skills and education, making the best use of information and
           communication technologies, promoting networking, co-operation and
           collaboration between firms and between firms and universities and other
           research institutions and encouraging innovation.

          Enterprise – The theme of enterprise is pervasive throughout the Strategy.
           A vigorous enterprise culture will be central to Northern Ireland’s success in
           the intensely competitive global economy. The aim is to change attitudes in
           Northern Ireland towards enterprise, promote an environment more
           supportive of enterprise and foster a competitive spirit throughout society.

          Outward-Looking – The Strategy recognises that Northern Ireland needs to
           be outward-looking because it is a full participant in the global economy. It
           stresses that both the public and private sectors will need to be willing to
           form partnerships and to learn lessons from any quarter and put them to use
           quickly and with confidence. We should encourage the widest possible
           range of interfaces between Northern Ireland businesses and business people
           and the rest of the world.

          Self Help – The Strategy argues that there must be recognition and
           acceptance that Northern Ireland itself will lay the foundations of its own
           economic success. All the stakeholders in the Northern Ireland economy
           will need to work in partnership, playing their own parts in a common effort
           to identify and overcome weakness and build on strengths.

4.49 These key principles are clearly reflected in the objectives, Actions, priority
     themes, priority groups and selection criteria of the Northern Ireland LEADER+
     Programme. In particular, the ‘knowledge based’ principle is reflected in



                                                                                      79
      LEADER+’s priority theme on ‘the use of new know-how and new technologies
      to make the products and services of rural areas more competitive’, ‘outward
      looking’ principle is reflected in Actions 2 and 3 (co-operation and networking)
      and the ‘self-help’ principle is addressed in the bottom-up delivery by Local
      Action Groups.


Northern Ireland Small Business Strategy

4.50 The promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises is central to economic
     policy in the United Kingdom. However, in both the UK in general and in
     Northern Ireland in particular, there has been a degree of fragmentation in the
     delivery of enterprise support and as a result there is a need for a more coherent
     and co-ordinated approach towards small firm policy.

4.51 The Northern Ireland authorities are currently preparing a Small Business Strategy
     for the period 2000-2010. The Strategy is being prepared following an extensive
     consultation process, which began in 1998, to capture the views and concerns of
     the providers of small business support, small business owners and key
     influencers in the small business marketplace. The Strategy will bring together
     the wide range of existing programmes and initiatives into a more coherent and
     co-ordinated framework and help to ensure that all small business development
     activity in Northern Ireland is integrated and adds value. It is proposed that the
     Small Business Strategy will provide the organising framework for the totality of
     enterprise and small business policy in Northern Ireland for all government
     departments and agencies and District Councils.

4.52 The Strategy will identify priorities for action to be taken forward by all those
     who support small businesses at local level. Its overall objective will be to
     maximise the impact of small business support on individuals and communities
     throughout Northern Ireland - the twin processes of employment and wealth
     creation. The overall objective will be pursued through four priority themes,
     which will provide a focus for small firm development policy for the next 10
     years in Northern Ireland. The themes will be:
           Business Competitiveness
           New Business Formation
           Access to Opportunity
           Business Infrastructure and Environment

4.53 The framework proposed by the Small Business Strategy will recognise that the
     needs of the 60,000 small businesses in Northern Ireland – the vast majority of
     which are dependent on local markets for sales, materials and labour – are best
     served by a well co-ordinated locally sensitive policy framework with sufficient
     resources to ensure maximum impact. The nature and scale of the small business
     market place in Northern Ireland therefore requires a strong local dimension to
     enterprise and small business support.



80
4.54 The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will operate within the framework
     of the Small Business Strategy. In particular, LEADER+’s overall objective of
     promoting the economic and employment contribution that very small businesses
     make to the rural economy will contribute towards the achievement of the
     Strategy’s overall objective of maximising the employment and wealth creation
     impact of enterprise and small business support. Furthermore, LEADER+’s
     delivery by Local Action Groups means that it will fit contribute to the strong
     local dimension of the framework proposed in the Strategy.


RELATIONSHIP WITH MAINSTREAM PROGRAMMES


The Northern Ireland Community Support Framework 2000-2006

4.55 The information contained in the ex-ante evaluation of the Northern Ireland
     Structural Funds Plan reflected aspects of ‘Business Prosperity’, ‘People
     Prosperity’ and ‘Place Prosperity’. From this, three themes for Structural Funds
     intervention have been identified in Community Support Framework for 2000-
     2006. These are:

          a modern, competitive, self-sustaining regional economy;

          employment, social inclusion and reconciliation; and

          regeneration, the environment and rural society.

4.56 The ‘modern, competitive, self-sustaining regional economy’ theme will address
     the need to create a modern, self-sustaining European regional economy in
     Northern Ireland to take advantage of new political and economic opportunities
     created by peace. Amongst other things, the theme will:

          develop innovation, networking and collaboration between businesses;

          extend the range of financial engineering products; and

          support SMEs and the social economy.

     These elements derive from the CSF Priority 1 called “ Economic Growth and
     Renewal.

4.57 The ‘employment, social inclusion and reconciliation’ theme will address the
     labour market challenges facing Northern Ireland, including those associated with
     the region’s transition to a more peaceful society, and need to address social
     inclusion and reconciliation between the two main communities. Amongst other
     things, the theme will:

          tackle the problems of division and segregation within Northern Ireland;



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          address the needs of young people lacking skills or qualifications, those in
           low wage employment, the long-term unemployed, the under-employed and
           those facing job losses through restructuring;

          broaden the base of female employment; and

          develop life-long learning, the information society and a knowledge driven
           economy.

     These elements derive from the CSF Priority 2 called “Employment, Human
     Resource Development and Social Inclusion.


4.58 The ‘regeneration, environment and rural society’ theme will address the need for
     regeneration in disadvantaged urban and rural areas, the need to tackle a number
     of threats to the region’s environment arising from economic growth and
     development and the need to address the difficulties facing rural society because
     of the recent crisis in agriculture. The theme will help to:
          develop the fabric of urban and rural communities;
          protect and improve both the natural and the built environment;
          foster bottom-up regeneration and development strategies for local areas;
           and
          provide opportunities for community and voluntary sector organisations to
           become financially self-sustaining.

     These elements derive from the CSF Priority 3 called “Balanced Regional Urban
     and Rural Development”.

4.59 The CSF Priority 4 is called “North-South and Wider Co-operation”, and will take
     into account the “Common Chapter” of the two Structural Funds plans presented
     by both Northern Ireland and Ireland, and will realise the desire for closer socio-
     economic co-operation. It will also address East-West co-operation so that
     Northern Ireland can progressively develop and increase its degree of involvement
     in wider European and international networks of co-operation. Amongst other
     things, the theme will:

        develop networks of co-operation on a cross-sectoral basis and encourage a
         structured approach to Northern Ireland’s participation in wider European and
         National networks;
        provide a strategic framework for support to cross-border co-operation
         strategies and projects to a variety of sectors and organisations;
        assist in the development and exploitation of wider markets; and
        improve physical linkages between north and South of the island of Ireland
         and in gateways to strategic destinations.




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4.60 The CSF sui generis Priority is called “Peace and Reconciliation” and will
     promote economic and social development with a special focus on those groups,
     sectors activities and areas which have been most affected by the conflict. The
     Priority has two central objectives- “addressing the legacy of the conflict” and
     “taking the opportunities arising from peace”.

     The “ addressing the legacy of the conflict”, objective, amongst other things, will:

          support actions which address activities/sectors most affected by community
           division and polarisation;

          support actions which address geographical areas showing high levels of
           community polarisation; and
          support the needs of groups and individuals who have suffered from the
           consequences of sectarianism and political violence (e.g. victims of the
           political violence, bereaved relatives, ex-prisoners).

     The “taking the opportunities arising from peace” objective, amongst other things,
     will:

          support activities / sectors whose development has been impeded by the
           adverse image of the region abroad (e.g. tourism, inward investment) or by
           lack of confidence in entrepreneurship;
          support geographical areas which have been particularly disadvantaged as a
           consequence of the conflict; and
          support the needs of groups or individuals who have been prevented from
           fulfilling their potential in society or in the labour market or who have been
           excluded from the labour market as a result of community conflict and
           divisions (e.g. young people, women, older workers).”.


4.61 The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will contribute to all five CSF
     Priorities.

     (a)   The Programme will contribute to the “Economic Growth and Renewal
           Priority” as a result of its concentration on developing very small businesses
           in rural areas. The LEADER+ initiative’s focus on ‘pilot actions’ and co-
           operation will also contribute to the objective of promoting innovation,
           networking and collaboration between businesses.

     (b)   The Programme will contribute to the promotion of the “Employment,
           Human Resource Development and Social Inclusion Priority” since one of
           the Programme’s primary objectives is job creation, ensuring that it will
           have an impact on promoting employment, and the long-term unemployed
           in rural areas have been identified as one of the four Priority groups, thereby
           addressing one aspect of social exclusion. In addition, the use of Local
           Action Groups drawn from all sections of the community in local areas to




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           deliver the Programme will help to bring together members of the two main
           communities on a common issue.

     (c)   The Programme will most directly contribute to the“Balanced Regional
           Urban and Rural Development Priority” because its purpose is to assist the
           development and regeneration of rural areas.

     (d)   The Programme will contribute to the “North-South and Wider Co-
           operation Priority ”, as co-operation and networking are its constituent
           principles, and embody two of its three central Actions. “Co-operation” is
           supported by Action 2 (see paragraphs 5.39 to 5.63), and “Networking” by
           Action 3 (see paragraphs 4.18 to 4.22). These Actions will have a
           respective and distinct North-South and East-West dimension.

     (e)   The Programme will contribute to the sui generis “Peace and
           Reconciliation” Priority, as The LEADER+ objectives of job creation,
           inclusion, co-operation and networking all harmonise with the broad peace
           and reconciliation theme.”

The Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity e

Economic Growth and Competitiveness Priority

4.62 The Priority will support business development in Northern Ireland through
     measures aimed at: targeting support to key business sectors; supporting research
     and technology development and technology transfer; supporting the
     development of tourism; and developing the region’s infrastructure.

4.63 The measure to which the LEADER+ Programme is most relevant is the Business
     Support Measure (ERDF). This measure aims “to increase the size and
     competitiveness of Northern Ireland’s internationally competitive business sector
     by means of targeting support to key business sectors and processes and the
     development of regional business support networks, Northern Ireland’s export
     trade and Northern Ireland’s GDP”. The measure will provide support to tackle
     the strategic weaknesses in the Northern Ireland private sector and to support the
     development and growth of Northern Ireland based enterprises in competitive
     international markets.

4.64 The scope for overlap between Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme and the
     Business Support Measure is limited by the latter’s focus on those businesses that
     compete in competitive international markets. In addition, Local Action Groups
     will be required to work in collaboration with those business support
     organisations, including the Local Enterprise Development Unit and the Local
     Enterprise Agencies active in rural areas, which will be involved in the delivery of
     the Business Support Measure. This will help to ensure that the two programmes
     complement one another.




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Employment Priority

4.65 This Priority will cover all 5 ESF policy fields and will be implemented by 10
     Measures.

4.66 Four of those measures have a link with the LEADER+ Programme. These are:

      1.   Tackling Long-Term Unemployment Measure (ESF) – This measure aims
           to re-integrate the long-term unemployed into the labour market and to
           prevent members of vulnerable groups becoming long-term unemployed.
           Among the activities that the measure may support will be specific actions
           to prevent young people and other vulnerable groups from becoming
           unemployed. Since the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme’s four
           Priority groups include young people and the long-term unemployed, it will
           contribute to the objectives of this measure.

     2.    Developing Entrepreneurship Measure (ESF) – This measure aims to
           increase the number and quality of independent businesses in Northern
           Ireland and to increase the opportunities for self employment, especially for
           women. The measure will include provision for management development
           programmes and specific human resource development initiatives for
           companies, particularly SMEs. This measure and the Northern Ireland
           LEADER+ Programme will complement one another since LEADER+ will
           provide an important source of capital funding for those individuals and
           businesses in rural areas that have benefited from this measure.


     3.    New Opportunities for Job Creation Measure (ESF) – This measure will
           provide support for the realisation of new job opportunities in the private,
           voluntary and community sectors. There is considerable variation in the
           patterns of unemployment and business activity at the local level and
           therefore this measure will provide an opportunity for those involved at the
           local level to adopt a strategic overview of the needs of their areas and draw
           up strategic human resource development plans. Those local plans will be
           an important complement to the local development strategies that will be
           drawn up by LEADER+ Local Action Groups.

     4.    The Advancement of Women Measure (ESF) – This measure aims to
           promote the participation of women in employment and self-employment.
           Among the activities that the Measure may support are the promotion of
           self-employment as an option for women, reducing the barriers that prevent
           women returning to the labour market and increasing access to training for
           women. This measure and the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will
           complement one another since LEADER+ will provide an important source
           of capital funding for rural women who have benefited from this measure
           and wish to proceed into self-employment or set up their own business.




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4.67 As the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will not provide support for any
     activities that are supported by the ESF under the Community Support Framework
     or the EQUAL initiative (see paragraph 5.25), there is little risk of any direct
     overlap between LEADER+ and these measures.

      Urban and Social Revitalisation Priority

4.68 The objective of this priority is the reduction of the socio-economic gap between
     disadvantaged urban areas and the wider society by improving the physical
     infrastructure of urban areas and by enabling community participation in
     sustainable economic development. The priority will be implemented by four
     measures:

         Urban revitalisation;
         Advice and information services;
         Community sustainability; and,
         Investing in early learning.

4.69 The focus of LEADER + is on the regeneration of rural areas through support
     innovative projects brought forward by micro-businesses. Thus the scope for
     overlap between the LEADR + programme and this priority is limited.
     Nevertheless there will be close co-ordination among lead delivery agents to
     ensure that there is no overlap or duplication.

      Agriculture, Rural Development, Forestry and Fisheries Priority

4.70 This priority will assist in the development of a sustainable and diverse rural
     economy through measures aimed at:

         Training
         Improving processing and marketing of agriculture products
         Forestry
         Rural development

4.71 The links with the measures for training and improving processing and marketing
     of agriculture products are explained in paragraphs 4.27 and 4.28. The links with
     the rural development measures are detailed in paragraphs 4.24 to 4.26. Figure 17
     explains how the LEADER + programme will complement this priority.

4.72 Paragraphs 4.9 to 4.12 and 4.31 to 4.35 emphasise the distinctiveness of LEADER
     +, and its synergy with the agriculture and rural development measures under this
     priority.

4.73 The Forestry Measure under this priority will provide support for:

         planting and natural regeneration of trees on non-agricultural land
         work in existing woodlands to encourage active and sustainable management
          or to enhance the value of woodland for conservation, landscape or recreation;



86
         improving the environmental, social and silvicultural benefits of existing
          forests.

      LEADER + will not provide support for any actions supported under this
      measure.

4.74 Support under the Fisheries Measures will be provided under four main fisheries
Axes:

          Adjustment of Fishing Effort;
          Renewal and Modernisation of the Fleet;
          Ports, Aquaculture, Processing and Marketing
          Other Measures related to:
          - development of improved marketing structures and strategies;
          - training, electronic trade, fisheries management and conservation;
          - generic promotion of fish and fishery products
          - improved co-ordination, distribution and marketing.

      LEADER + will not provide support for any actions supported under this
      measure.

      Environment Priority

4.75 This priority is designed to deliver projects that actively set out to conserve and
     enhance the environment and the extent to which it is understood and enjoyed.
     The measure will seek to support:

         actions to achieve the highest standards of water and air quality and make
          Northern Ireland widely known for an outstandingly clean environment;
         the conservation and appreciation of the natural biodiversity;
         the character, quality and enjoyment of the landscape; and the conservation
          and appreciation of the built and cultural heritage.

4.76 Under Action 1 of LEADER + support can be provided to small rural businesses
     to develop environmental goods and services and environmentally sensitive
     processes, which could include innovative waste management and recycling
     initiatives. LEADER + will not support any activities which are eligible for
     support under the environment priority.

4.77 LEADER Action groups will be required to establish close working relationships
     with relevant Government departments, agencies, local authorities and other
     relevant organisations operating in their area. These bodies will be consulted in
     the preparation of the development Strategy and account taken of their plans,
     programmes and activities so that there is no overlap or duplication with activities
     and funding under the measures in the Programme for Building Sustainable
     Prosperity.”

The Peace II Programme



                                                                                           87
PRIORITY 1 – Economic Renewal

4.78 This Priority will aim to realise the economic opportunities which peace brings,
     while at the same time meeting the challenge of replacing employment which will
     be lost in traditional sectors and assisting individuals employed in those sectors in
     making the transition to other sustainable employment. The Priority will be
     underpinned by a tripartite structure of: “Supporting Business Competitiveness”,
     “Developing People”, and “Creating the Conditions for Regional
     Competitiveness”.

4.79 The Business Competitiveness and Development Measure (ERDF)
     This measure will help anchor the peace process in sustainable economic growth
     through the stimulation of investment and job potential, the promotion and
     support of entrepreneurship, stimulation of better quality start-up, improved
     access to finance, support for infrastructure initiatives, and export market
     development. This Measure and the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will
     complement each other since they share similar objectives relating to the
     promotion of enterprise, innovation and collaboration. The scope for overlap
     between the initiatives is limited since this special initiative will have a focus on
     export oriented businesses and LEADER+ will focus exclusively on very small
     businesses in rural areas, and innovative projects. Nevertheless, there will be
     close co-ordination among lead delivery agents to ensure there is no overlap or
     duplication.

4.80 The Sustainable Tourism Development Based on Shared Natural and Cultural
     Resources Measure (ERDF)
     This Measure will maximise opportunities for tourism development arising from
     peace by utilising Northern Ireland’s untapped natural and cultural resources in a
     sustainable manner, and ensure that tourism development is economically,
     socially and environmentally sustainable. It will support the development of
     sustainable water-based tourism products, and the development of sustainable
     natural resource rural tourism in disadvantaged areas. Natural Resource Rural
     Tourism will be targeted at those areas of rural Northern Ireland which fall within,
     or are contiguous to, areas of outstanding natural beauty or environmental
     sensitivity. The measure is designed to help Northern Ireland’s rural population,
     comprising both communities, to take advantage of the opportunity to work
     together presented by the potential growth in tourism. The LEADER+
     Programme will support small-scale innovative tourism projects, but scope for
     potential overlap will be avoided by close co-ordination among lead delivery
     agents.

4.81 The New Skills and New Opportunities Measure (ESF)
     This Measure recognises the skill demands of a growing economy and that
     regeneration will lead to growth in higher value-added jobs requiring knowledge-
     based skills, that the current workforce needs re-skilled, and that new entrants to
     the labour market will have to be appropriately equipped. The Measure aims to



88
      develop a culture of life-long learning, and will focus on, amongst other things,
      the following kinds of activities:
           Actions to improve the level of basic skills among men and women across
            the working population, particularly those how have been affected by the
            conflict, and those whose existing employment is threatened by change; and
           Actions to promote transition to the knowledge-based economy.

4.82 The Promoting Entrepreneurship Measure (ESF)
     This Measure will address the entrepreneurial skill demands of the growing
     economies North and South, recognises the need for further development of an
     enterprise culture, and in particular looks to the potential of developing new
     sources of employment. The Measure will focus on the promotion of self-
     employment opportunities, and supporting the development of self-sustaining
     businesses.

4.83 The Positive Action for Women Measure (ESF)
     This Measure aims to improve women’s access to and participation in the labour
     market and to avail of labour market opportunities and to improve
     entrepreneurship among women. The Measure will focus on, amongst other
     things, the following kinds of activities:
          The promotion of entrepreneurship as an option for women;
          Identification of barriers which impede women from entering and
           progressing within the labour market;
          Support for confidence-building actions and skill enhancement.

4.84 Since the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will not provide support for
     any activities that are supported by the ESF under the Community Support
     Framework or the EQUAL initiative (see paragraph 5.25), there is little risk of any
     direct overlap between LEADER+ and this measure. Nevertheless, there will be
     close co-ordination among lead delivery agents to ensure there is no overlap or
     duplication. These three ESF Measures and the LEADER+ Programme will
     complement one another since LEADER+ will provide an important source of the
     capital funding needed to support the projects that will arise out of the training
     programmes, particularly those that seek to promote entrepreneurship.

4.85 The Training for Farmers Measure (EAGGF) will, amongst other things, provide
     support for the development of selected farm businesses as “model units” to
     disseminate best production, management and environmental practice in both
     traditional and diversified enterprises; it will also deliver training, mentoring and
     financial support to groups of farmers to exploit the potential of ICT for
     management, marketing and personal development purposes.

4.86 The Diversification of Agricultural Activities and Activities Close to Agriculture
     to Provide Multiple Activities or Alternative Incomes Measure (EAGGF) will,
     amongst other things, provide support for re-skilling or up-skilling of people
     currently engaged in farming to secure off-farm employment, or to gain expertise
     for non-traditional enterprises; and will implement a programme to stimulate
     awareness of part-time job opportunities.



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4.87 The Investment in Agricultural Holdings Measure (EAGGF) will, amongst other
     things, provide financial support for on-farm investments (machinery, farm
     buildings, works etc); it will assist the implementation of local action plans to
     rectify environmental problems related to pollution of waterways, and to rectify
     quality problems associated with NI farm produce.

4.88 The Basic Services for the Rural Economy and Population Measure (EAGGF)
     will, amongst other things, support the rural retail sector, by exploiting the
     potential of ICT: to improve communication, to develop knowledge and ideas, to
     reduce parochialism, and to build bridges; the measure will also develop the
     capacity of retail owners to work together in cross-community groupings to
     maximise their contribution to the social economic development of local
     communities.

4.89 (The synergy between these Measures and the LEADER + Programme is
     described in paragraphs 4.23 to 4.26, and the safeguards against potential overlap
     in paragraph 4.27)

PRIORITY 2 - Social Integration, Inclusion and Reconciliation

4.90 This Priority will promote social integration, inclusion and reconciliation by
     targeting opportunity and need in both urban and rural areas across Northern
     Ireland and the Border Region paying particular attention to vulnerable groups,
     areas most affected by the conflict, areas where community infrastructure is weak,
     and interface areas. This Priority will contain two EAGGF Measures:

          The Renovation and Development of Villages and Protection and
           Conservation of the Rural Heritage Measure, amongst other things, will
           support cross- community activities, encourage pride in the community,
           support a mediation initiative and develop community safety programmes.

4.91 The Encouragement for Tourist and Craft Activities Measure, among other things,
     will:

          Assist rural communities to promote their local identity, culture and heritage
           as an economic asset
          Encourage communities to develop new approaches to traditional rural
           events which maximise their potential for reconciliation and economic
           development.

4.92 Paragraphs 4.9 to 4.12 and 4.31 to 4.36 emphasise the distinctiveness of
     LEADER+ and its synergy with the agriculture and rural development measures
     under the priorities of the mainstream programmes.

PRIORITY 3 - Locally Based Regeneration and Development Strategies Priority




90
4.93 This Priority will develop and consolidate the distinctive approaches to address
     grass-roots needs and ensure local implementation through Local Strategy
     Partnerships. The priority will build upon the unique District Partnership
     structures put in place for PEACE I by developing new local strategy partnership
     arrangements. The aim will be to enhance the capacity of District Councils, the
     voluntary and community sectors, trade unions, business and statutory agencies
     delivering services at a local level to work more closely together to produce
     integrated local area strategies which will become a framework for the sustainable
     regeneration and development of district areas.

4.94 The Local Strategy Partnerships proposed under this Priority share many of the
     characteristics of the Local Action Groups that will deliver the Northern Ireland
     LEADER+ Programme. Both will be bottom up partnerships made up of a cross-
     section of public, private and voluntary sector interests in local areas, and both
     will be responsible for devising coherent strategies for their areas. There is a
     significant opportunity to achieve a substantial degree of synergy between the
     activities of the two types of bodies, as LEADER+ could become the rural
     development element of the integrated strategies developed by the Local Strategy
     Partnerships. Local Action Groups will be required to prepare development
     strategies that complement the work of the Local Strategy Partnerships (see
     paragraphs 5.20 and 7.4).

PRIORITY 4 - Outward and Forward Looking Region Priority

4.95 This Priority aims to develop networks on a cross-sectoral basis and encourage a
     structured approach to Northern Ireland’s participation in European and
     international networks. The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will
     complement this Priority through the activities that will be supported by Action 2
     (see paragraphs 5.39 to 5.63) and Action 3 (see paragraphs 5.64 to 5.83). In
     particular, Local Action Groups from Northern Ireland will be encouraged to
     participate actively in networking at the European level organised by the
     Observatory of Rural Areas.


PRIORITY 5 - Cross-Border Co-operation Priority

4.96 The overall objective of this Priority is to provide support for cross-border co-
     operation strategies and projects across a wide variety of sectors and
     organisations. It will support and facilitate the work of the new structures
     established to provide a framework North-South co-operation and, where possible,
     build East-West linkages into projects.

4.97 The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will complement this Priority
     through the activities supported by Action 2 (see paragraphs 5.39 to 5.63). The
     rural areas of Northern Ireland and the rural areas of the Republic of Ireland
     experience many of the same issues, needs and opportunities and there has been a
     significant amount of co-operation between the two jurisdictions on rural
     development issues in the past. In addition, North-South co-operation in Ireland



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     was a significant aspect of the Multi-Party Agreement reached in Belfast on 10
     April 1998.

4.98 In this context, it has been agreed that special provision and arrangements will be
     put in place in both the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme and the Ireland
     LEADER+ Programme to promote co-operation between rural areas in the two
     parts of Ireland. The details of these arrangements are provided in paragraph
     5.53(a). By focusing on cross border co-operation projects involving the
     development of very small businesses in rural areas, LEADER+ will complement
     the other activities being undertaken under the Cross-Border Co-operation Priority
     of the Peace II Programme.

INTERREG III

4.99 The overall objective of INTERREG III is to “strengthen economic and social
     cohesion in the European Union by promoting cross-border, trans-national and
     inter-regional co-operation and balanced development of the European Union
     territory”.

4.100 There will be an INTERREG III Programme for Northern Ireland and the six
      border counties of the Republic of Ireland. Although the Programme is not yet
      complete, it is likely that it will contain four sub-programmes as follows:
     1.    Economic Cohesion
     2.    Social/Community Cohesion
     3.    Physical Infrastructure
     4.    Agriculture, Rural Development and Natural Resources
     Action 2 of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will impact upon sub-
     programme 1 (economic cohesion) and sub-programme 4 (agriculture, rural
     development and natural resources).


Economic Cohesion Sub-Programme

4.101 This sub-programme will contain 3 separate measures:
          Measure 1: Economic Development – this measure will provide support for,
           amongst other things, the creation of cross-border business to business

           linkages, cross-border clustering of businesses or sub-suppliers networks,
           joint export or tradable services development and support for inward
           investment initiatives. Since cross-border co-operation projects under
           LEADER+ will focus on very small rural businesses, there will be no
           overlap between LEADER+ and this measure.
          Measure 2: Knowledge Economy – this measure will encourage the
           development of the information economy, e-commerce and alternative
           forms of involvement in the labour market and the development of



92
             opportunities based on the digital economy. Again, since LEADER+ will
             focus on very small rural businesses, it will complement the activities of this
             measure.
            Measure 3: Entrepreneurship and Small Firms – this measure will support
             the development of enterprise skills and culture, enterprise generation and
             development and local employment initiatives.


Agriculture, Rural Development and Natural Resources Sub-Programme

4.102 This sub-programme will also contain 3 measures:
            Measure 1: Restructuring of Agriculture – this measure will promote
             activities designed to facilitate and support farm restructuring to include
             specialised training interventions and the development of off-farm
             opportunities for members of farm families. Because the focus of
             LEADER+ will be on very small businesses, including small farms, it will
             complement the work of this measure. It will provide an important source
             of the funding that will be required to realise the opportunities identified by
             farmers and farm families who have benefited from this measure and
             therefore, although they are clearly distinct from one another, it will be
             possible to create a strong synergy between the two programmes.
            Measure 2: Rural Development – this measure will provide support for the
             cross-border activities described in paragraph 4.23 and therefore the links
             between it and the LEADER+ Programme have already been discussed.
            Measure 3: Natural Resources – this measure will support the development,
             conservation and protection of fisheries and the sustainable development of
             forestry. There is no link between this measure and the Northern Ireland
             LEADER+ Programme.

4.103 In all cases, the potential for overlap between the Northern Ireland LEADER+
      Programme and the Northern Ireland/Ireland INTERREG III Programme is
      lessened by the fact that INTERREG III is limited to the six border counties of the
      Republic of Ireland, whereas cross-border co-operation under LEADER+ can
      involve Local Action Groups in any part of the Republic of Ireland.


EQUAL

4.104 The main aim of the EQUAL Initiative is to promote new ways of tackling all
     forms of exclusion, discrimination and inequality in relation to the labour market.
     The Northern Ireland EQUAL programme will focus on two themes as follows:

            Employability – facilitating access and return to the labour market for those
             that face difficulty being (re)integrated. Actions will seek to increase
             understanding among policy makers and practitioners of the supply and
             demand side barriers faced by those who are disadvantaged in the labour



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           market and who are socially excluded or at risk of social exclusion; identify
           new methods and produce new guidance for packages of support for the
           labour market integration of those most disadvantaged, or for moving
           individuals closer towards the labour market; and, influence policy makers
           and practitioners to use the learning produced through this work.
          Equal opportunities – reducing gender gaps and supporting job
           desegregation. Actions will seek to increase understanding and identify
           means to combat (discriminatory, stereotypical and traditional) attitudes that
           inhibit women’s entry to and progression within the labour market; enhance
           the capacity and effective tools available to learning providers and advisors
           to encourage women and men to enter professions in which they are
           traditionally under-represented; and, to identify and support employers to
           adopt working practices that enable women to progress within employment.

4.105 Since the Northern Ireland LEADER + Programme will not provide support for
      any activities that are supported by the ESF under the Community support
      framework or the EQUAL initiative (see paragraph 5.25), there is little risk of
      any direct overlap between LEADER + and EQUAL.

4.106 In all cases, since the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will not provide
      support for any activities that are supported by the ESF under the Community
      Support Framework or the EQUAL initiative (see paragraph 5.25), there is little
      risk of any direct overlap between LEADER+ and EQUAL.




94
95
                                      CHAPTER 5

          ACTIONS OF LEADER+ IN NORTHERN IRELAND

ACTION 1: TERRITORIAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES


Objectives

5.1   The aim of Action 1 of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be to
      support the economic development of Northern Ireland’s rural areas. It will
      encourage locally based partnerships covering relatively small geographical areas
      and made up of representatives of the local public, private and voluntary sectors to
      think about the development needs and opportunities of the small business sector,
      including small farms, in their areas. It will also provide funding for those
      partnerships to draw up and implement integrated development strategies that will
      take a global approach to addressing the needs and potential that they have
      identified in their areas in new and original ways.

5.2   The specific objectives of Action 1 of the Northern Ireland LEADER+
      Programme are:

            To provide support for a maximum of 12 Local Action Groups in Northern
             Ireland to implement development strategies for their areas.

            To increase the number of small businesses in rural areas.

            To assist the growth of small businesses in rural areas.

            To create and maintain employment in very small businesses in rural areas.


Priority Themes

5.3   The priority themes for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be those
      listed in paragraph 14.2(a) of the Commission Notice to Member States:

            The use of new know-how and new technologies to make the products and
             services of rural areas more competitive

            Improving the quality of life in rural areas




96
           Adding value to the local products, in particular by facilitating access to
            markets for small production units via collective actions

           Making the best use of natural and cultural resources, including enhancing
            the value of sites of Community interest selected under NATURA 2000.

5.4   In Northern Ireland, all of these themes must be delivered with a focus on micro-
      business development and job creation. A micro-business is defined as any
      private sector business, including a farm, with fewer than 10 employees (Full-
      Time Equivalents) and may involve either full-time or part-time employment.

5.5   Local Action Groups should develop their strategies around one of these priority
      themes. Groups may develop their strategies around more than one theme if they
      can clearly demonstrate that the strategy will be internally consistent.


Priority Groups

5.6   Paragraph 14.2(a) of the Commission Notice to Member States indicates that the
      Commission “would like support to be given as a priority to strategies that seek to
      enhance the job opportunities and/or activities for women and young people”.
      The paragraph goes on to indicate that Member States may extend the list of
      priority groups to take account of their own specific situations.

5.7   The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development proposes to extend the list
      of priority groups for Northern Ireland to include:

      (a)   farm families, in recognition of the difficulties facing the agriculture
            industry in the region; and

      (b)   the long-term unemployed, in response to the obligation that the Northern
            Ireland Government’s policy of New Targeting Social Need places on
            Government Departments to take action to address the problem of long-term
            unemployment.

5.8   The priority groups of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme are therefore:
           Women
           Young people (defined as those under 30 years old)
           Farm families and
           The long-term unemployed




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Measures to be Implemented

5.9   Support will be provided to Local Action Groups to assist them in implementing
      development strategies for their areas.

5.10 Local Action Groups will cover comparatively small geographical areas with
     populations of between 10,000 and 100,000 people. By concentrating on small
     geographical areas, the Northern Ireland Programme will maintain the local
     character of the LEADER Initiative. It will not be necessary for the boundaries of
     Local Action Groups to coincide with the boundaries of existing administrative
     units, such as District Councils or counties.

5.11 Although the areas to be covered by Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland will
     be comparatively small, great importance will also be placed on the need to ensure
     that the areas can sustain a viable and effective development strategy. For this
     reason, the areas covered by Local Action Groups will also have to be coherent,
     have sufficient ‘critical mass’ to sustain a development strategy and form
     homogenous units in physical, economic and social terms. Proposals from Local
     Action Groups will be carefully considered to ensure that these requirements are
     met.

5.12 The boundaries of Local Action Groups will not be permitted to overlap. This
     means that no rural part of Northern Ireland will be covered by more that one
     Local Action Group.

5.13 Local ownership and participation are core principles of the Department of
     Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural Development Programme for
     2000-2006. It therefore follows that local ownership and control of the
     development strategies drawn up by Local Action Groups and the participation of
     all sectors of the rural population in LEADER+ will be emphasised in the
     implementation of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme. To achieve this,
     the membership of Local Action Group will have to be locally based, meaning
     that the members must either live or have a significant work interest in the area
     covered by the Group. In addition, the membership of Local Action Groups will
     have to be representative of the main stakeholders in the area and show balance in
     terms of the representation of the two main communities in Northern Ireland, men
     and women and the main socio-economic sectors in the area.

5.14 Notwithstanding the importance of ensuring that the membership of Local Action
     Groups is balanced and representative, support will only be provided to those
     Groups that have the ability to successfully devise and implement a development
     strategy for their area. In particular, Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development will seek to satisfy itself of the ability of the members of
     prospective Local Action Groups to carry out the tasks assigned to them and the
     effectiveness of the Groups’ operational and decision-making arrangements. This
     will apply equally to Local Action Groups that were supported under LEADER II
     and are seeking to continue their activities under LEADER+ and to new Groups.



98
Integrated Approach

5.15 When drawing up their development strategies, Local Action Groups will be
     encouraged to look at the interaction between the different issues, needs and
     opportunities in their areas and take a global approach to addressing them.
     Emphasis will be given to development strategies that take this kind of integrated
     approach and specifically link the proposed activities to identified issues, needs
     and opportunities. In particular, it is very important that Local Action Groups do
     not prepare strategies that are simply collections of projects or lists of sectoral
     measures since the Commission Notice to Member States clearly states that these
     cannot be supported (paragraph 14.2(a)).


Pilot Nature of Development Strategies

5.16 In keeping with the LEADER Initiative’s role as a ‘laboratory’ for testing out new
     approaches to rural development, Local Action Groups will be required to draw
     up development strategies that clearly have a ‘pilot nature’. Therefore, the
     strategies will have to be new by comparison to previous practice in the area
     concerned and the methods used and planned in ‘mainstream’ programmes.

5.17 It will be development strategies, rather than Local Action Groups, which will be
     assessed on their pilot natures. The application of the LEADER approach to an
     area that was not covered by LEADERs I and II will not be sufficient in its own
     right to justify the title ‘pilot’. Furthermore, support will not be provided for
     actions that are merely a continuation of what has gone before, either as part of
     LEADER II or of another rural development initiative. It is intended that Action 1
     of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will build on the base that
     LEADER II has created by continuing to support actions that are new in terms of
     their subject, their method and their technical content. (Technical content
     includes the production process, the product, the market or some other aspect of
     the project.)

5.18 In addition to supporting strategies that clearly demonstrate their ‘pilot nature’ in
     their own right, this Action will target support towards strategies and activities
     that will enable new approaches and methods to be transferred to other regions of
     the European Union. This will require projects to be:
           Tangible – the project or its outputs must have either a physical nature or a
            significant, distinctly identifiable and measurable local impact.
           Transparent – the process and approach to the project should be capable of
            being easily understood and communicated through the appropriate
            networks.
           Transferable – the project and its methodology should be capable of being
            reproduced in other parts of the European Union.




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Sustainability

5.19 Support will be directed to Local Action Groups that take full account of the issue
     of sustainability in their development strategies. The strategies must:

      (a)   use resources in such a way that the options available to future generations
            are not undermined;

      (b)   help to sustain the community of the area that they cover; and

      (c)   have a lasting impact on the area that they cover after the expenditure of all
            the available funds.


Complementarity with Mainstream Programmes

5.20 Funding will be directed towards those strategies that complement ‘mainstream’
     programmes or measures. In particular, the development strategies must
     complement other rural development schemes and programmes (described in
     Chapter 4) and the work of District Councils, Local Enterprise Agencies, Strategic
     Development Partnerships and Development Partnerships established under the
     EQUAL initiative in their areas.


Targeting Disadvantage and Equality of Opportunity

5.21 In keeping with the Northern Ireland Government’s policy of New Targeting
     Social Need, the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will direct support
     towards those Local Action Groups that clearly indicate how they propose to
     target disadvantage and the needs of disadvantaged or marginalised groups in the
     areas that they cover.

5.22 Local Action Groups will also be required to demonstrate how they have taken
     account of the need to promote equality of opportunity in their development
     strategy, in line with the requirements of the Structural Funds Regulations and the
     Northern Ireland Act (1998).


Selection of Local Action Groups

5.23 The aims, objectives and issues outlined above are reflected in the description of
     the criteria and procedures for the selection of Local Action Groups, which are set
     out in Chapter 7.




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Indicative Activities

5.24 Paragraph 36 of the Commission Notice to Member States indicates that
     LEADER+ can only support actions that are eligible for support from the EAGGF
     Guidance Section (Regulation (EC) N0 1257/99,), the ERDF (Regulation (EC) No
     1783/1999, the ESF (Regulation (EC) No1784/1999), and, Regulation (EC) No
     1685/2000 (Eligibility of expenditure). This will have the effect of simplifying
     the administration of the Initiative, while retaining its ability to provide support
     for a wide range of activities.

5.25 It is not possible to provide a definitive list of the activities that will be supported
     by the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme until Local Action Groups have
     submitted their development strategies. Any attempt to be prescriptive at this
     stage would undermine the ‘bottom up’ nature of the LEADER Initiative.
     Nevertheless, it is possible to suggest some broad categories of activity that may
     be included in development activities.

           Administration costs of Local Action Groups – Action 1 will cover the staff
            costs and other operational expenditure of Local Action Groups. This will
            include financial monitoring; monitoring and evaluation of implementation
            of the strategy; project appraisal; expenses in relation to participating in
            networking activities, and establishing baseline data and innovative, bottom
            up methods of designing and implementing performance measurement.

            The administration costs will also include the training of staff and board
            members of Local Action Groups. One of the lessons arising from the
            implementation of LEADER II in Northern Ireland has been the need for
            training for the staff and Board members of Local Action Groups in order to
            help them fulfil their roles in the strategic direction and management of the
            Groups.

            Although it will be a requirement that successful applicants for LEADER+
            funding must demonstrate their competence in the administration of the
            funding, there will be a need for training in certain areas to ensure the
            effective implementation of projects. This could include training in aspects
            of financial management, the use of information technology, marketing
            skills, tourism skills, etc.

            The administration costs of Local Action Groups will be limited to a
            maximum of 15% of the total amount of funding provided to them from
            Action 1 and Action 2 (as appropriate).

           Publicity and Promotional Costs – Action 1 will provide support for the
            local development process such as engaging local commitment, increasing
            the participation of local people and promoting the group.




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          Under paragraph 38 of the Commission Notice to Member States,
          expenditure on the acquisition of skills as defined in LEADER II (that is,
          expenditure on publicity and/or studies prior to the launch of area
          development plans by the LAGs) is eligible under Action 1 provided that it
          concerns areas where LEADER has not applied in the past.

          Therefore, in areas of Northern Ireland where LEADER has not applied in
          the past, expenditure linked to setting up the Local Action Groups, publicity
          and studies prior to launch of the development strategy may also be eligible
          if the Local Action Group is selected.

          However, the Department expects that this will be a minor element of the
          Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme since only a small part of Northern
          Ireland’s rural area has not benefited from LEADER in the past. In
          addition, significant capacity has been built up in rural areas through the
          implementation of LEADER II, Area Based Strategies and the District
          Partnerships of the Peace Programme.

         Training – Action 1 will provide support for the training of project
          promoters and particular sections of the rural population including persons
          joining or rejoining the labour market, such as young people and women.

          Training activities supported under LEADER+ will complement those
          supported by the ESF under the Northern Ireland Community Support
          Framework and the EQUAL Initiative.

          The form of training provided will recognise the opportunity and the need
          for LEADER+ to make a significant contribution to the reduction of long-
          term unemployment in rural areas. Priority will be given to developing and
          offering a form of training that will recognise the special needs of those who
          experienced long-term unemployment. This will form part of a particular
          priority being given to the needs of the long-term unemployed in
          programmes throughout Northern Ireland.

          Local Action Groups will be encouraged, where appropriate and practical, to
          make use of the Rural College, which was funded as a LEADER I project,
          to develop both formal programmes for all levels of rural development
          training and to develop linkages with local groups to provide targeted
          training programmes specific to their needs.

         Technical support for rural enterprises – Action 1 will support the provision
          of advice and assistance for rural enterprises to help new businesses become
          established and assist existing small rural businesses to consolidate and
          expand, thus securing existing jobs and increasing employment potential in
          target areas. This support may be provided in conjunction with the Local
          Enterprise Agencies or other local development bodies.

          The support could include assistance with:



102
         The analysis of business operations;
         Redesigning and restructuring business operations including training,
          work experience, employment and sub-contract opportunities;
         Guidance for business start ups pre- and post- investment (the
          preparation of feasibility studies and business plans, mentoring,
          confidence development, business ideas generation and planning); and
         Identifying markets and developing marketing plans.

    The support could be delivered through ‘virtual’ offices (which could act as
    on-line first stop shops) as well as walk-in offices.

   The promotion of local products - subject to the provisions of EC
    Regulation 2826/2000, Action 1 will provide support for the development
    and promotion of products characteristic of the local area. This could
    include support for:
         The development of niche markets for speciality products;
         Research into local rural products;
         Projects to add value to rural products, such as further processing of
          local products and product quality initiatives;
         Local Identity Branding;
         Projects to maximise the economic impact of local culture; and
         Exploiting the economic potential of traditional local skills.

   The use of new technology in small rural businesses – Action 1 will provide
    support for researching, testing and commercialising new technologies in
    small rural businesses. This may include support for businesses to assess
    and improve their products and processes through benchmarking and
    comparisons with best practice models or technology transfer initiatives.

    Support will also be provided to increase the level and efficiency of IT use
    in very small rural businesses, including
         Encouraging businesses to look at their technology goals and develop
          their business strategy around these goals, through assistance in the
          form of consultancy and implementation costs;
         Supporting the introduction of ICT to business processes for
          management, accountancy, project and planning purposes, product or
          service alignment for promotion and sales by internet; and
         Promoting e-commerce initiatives in small businesses and
          encouraging the use of the internet as a business tool.

   Developing the support infrastructure for rural businesses – Action 1 will
    provide support for activities that create or develop infrastructure to assist



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            the growth of very small businesses in rural areas. This may include
            support for:
                 Development of suitable accommodation for small rural businesses,
                  where the demand exists. This could involve the conversion of old or
                  derelict buildings for new purposes, the expansion of existing
                  premises or the development of existing premises for higher
                  technology purposes;
                 Encouragement for the creation and development of business clusters
                  in rural areas including collective marketing initiatives, initiatives to
                  improve the integration of the supply/value chain and the development
                  of business networks;


                 The establishment of childcare facilities for the employees of small
                  rural businesses that are unable to provide suitable facilities; and
                 The facilitation of homeworking.

           Environmental goods and services – Action 1 will provide support for small
            rural businesses to develop environmental goods and services and
            environmentally sensitive processes. This might include:
                 Encouraging the development and marketing of environmental
                  tourism products and practices;
                 Waste management and recycling initiatives; and
                 Renewable energy initiatives, including the development of local
                  energy schemes.


Eligible expenditure

5.26 The eligibility of expenditure for co-financing by LEADER+ will be judged
     against the provisions of Commission Regulation 1685/2000 laying down detailed
     rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 as regards
     eligibility of expenditure of operations co-financed by the Structural Funds.

5.27 In addition, the following provisions will apply for capital expenditure in
     accordance with the paragraph 37 of the Commission Notice to Member States.

      (a)   infrastructure projects are not eligible, except for small-scale projects, which
            can be supported up to a limit to be defined in the Programme Complement
            and agreed by the Monitoring Committee; and

      (b)   commercial investments will be eligible within limits to be defined in the
            Programme Complement and agreed by the Monitoring Committee.




104
Impact

Economic impact

5.28 It is anticipated that Action 1 will have an important impact on economic
     development in Northern Ireland’s rural areas, particularly on the small business
     sector as a result of the Programme’s focus on very small businesses in rural
     areas.


5.29 It is anticipated that the economic development impacts of the measure will
     include:

     (a)   an increase in the number of very small businesses in rural areas;

     (b)   an increase in the size of very small businesses in rural areas;

     (c)   the creation of new jobs in very small businesses in rural areas; and

     (d)   the safeguarding or maintenance of existing jobs in very small businesses in
           rural areas that would otherwise have been lost.

5.30 It is anticipated that the identification of four priority groups for the Northern
     Ireland LEADER+ Programme will result in a particularly important impact for
     women, young people, farmers and farm families and the long-term unemployed
     in rural areas.


Impact on community development

5.31 Because Action 1 will be delivered in relatively small geographical areas by Local
     Action Groups that must be made up of locally based members, it will allow rural
     people to become more closely involved in identifying the needs and potential of
     their areas and devising the responses to them. The Action will therefore help to
     create more empowered and self-confident local communities with better
     organisational abilities and have an impact on the ability of rural people to cope
     with the economic and social changes effecting their areas.


Contribution to economic and social cohesion

5.32 Support from Action 1 will be directed towards Local Action Groups that clearly
     indicate how they propose to target disadvantage and the needs of disadvantaged
     or marginalised groups in the areas that they cover. The Action will contribute to
     economic cohesion by helping to provide new economic opportunities in
     disadvantaged rural areas, thereby contributing to the reduction of socio-economic
     differentials between those areas and the region as a whole. The development of




                                                                                     105
      the economy in disadvantaged rural areas will also make a contribution to the
      development of the economy of Northern Ireland as a whole.

5.33 It is anticipated that the Action will contribute to social cohesion by helping to
     increase the rates of participation in rural development of some of those sectors of
     the rural population (women, the young, small farmers, the long-term
     unemployed) that have previously been under-represented.




106
Environmental impact

5.34 The Action is expected to be broadly neutral in terms of its impact on the
     environment. Individual projects will have their environmental impact assessed as
     part of the application process to ensure that they do not have a negative effect on
     the environment.


Impact on equal opportunities

5.35 The integration of men and women into the labour force – One of the impacts of
     the Action will be the creation of jobs in disadvantaged rural areas. Since these
     areas exhibit higher than average levels of unemployment and long term
     unemployment, the measure will have an impact in assisting the integration of
     both men and women into the labour force by providing them with new
     employment opportunities. It is expected that the measure will have an impact in
     reducing the rates of unemployment and long term unemployment in rural areas
     for both men and women and reducing the differential between the female
     economic activity rate in the disadvantaged rural areas and the rate for Northern
     Ireland as a whole.

5.36 Their access to education and vocational training – The Action will have a small
     impact on increasing access to education and vocational training for both women
     and men through its support for training activities.

5.37 The establishment of women in business – The Action will have a positive impact
     on the establishment of women in business because it will focus on the
     development of small businesses in rural areas and women are one of the priority
     groups for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.

5.38 The reconciliation of family and working life – It is expected that the Action will
     have a small positive impact on this issue as it will provide support for the
     establishment of part-time, as well as full-time, businesses in rural areas and for
     the creation of part-time, as well as full-time, jobs.




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ACTION 2: CO-OPERATION


Objectives

5.39 Support from Action 2 will be made available to Local Action Groups that wish to
     co-operate on joint projects to assist them in achieving the objectives set out in
     their development strategies. The aim of Action 2 will be to encourage effective
     co-operation between rural areas in order to:

      (a)    achieve the necessary critical mass for a project to be viable;

      (b)    encourage Local Action Groups to undertake complementary actions; and

      (c)    add value to a project through the bringing together of complementary
             skills, know-how, products and/or measures.

5.40 Projects will be undertaken within the framework of the unifying theme or themes
     set out in the Local Action Groups’ development strategies. The detailed
     objectives set out for Action 1 will therefore also apply for projects under
     Action 2.


Measures to be Implemented

5.41 Support from Action 2 of LEADER+ will only be granted to Local Action Groups
     that are funded through Action 1.

5.42 The co-operation funded under Action 2 must take the form of a joint project
     rather than just the exchange of experience and, wherever possible, joint projects
     should be supported by a common structure. The co-operation must demonstrate
     genuine added value and produce real and tangible benefits for the rural areas
     involved in the joint project.

5.43 Funding will be granted under this Action for expenditure on the joint project
     itself and for upstream expenditure on technical assistance for co-operation.

5.44 Each Local Action Group will be expected to demonstrate a commitment to co-
     operation in its development strategy. In addition, Local Action Groups will be
     required to submit ‘co-operation strategies’ to secure an allocation of Action 2
     funding. The funding will be released to the Groups as it is required. Groups that
     do not make use of their allocation for co-operation activities will have them
     withdrawn and reallocated. In this way, the Northern Ireland authorities expect to
     build significantly on the relatively small number of co-operation projects
     supported under LEADER II.




108
5.45 Action 2 will provide support for:

      (a)   inter-territorial co-operation; and

      (b)   transnational co-operation.


Inter-territorial Co-operation

5.46 Support for inter-territorial co-operation will be available for joint projects
     developed by two or more Local Action Groups or by a Local Action Group and a
     non-LEADER+ area that is organised in line with the LEADER approach (that is,
     a bottom-up, broadly based local partnership).

5.47 In the case of a joint project between a Local Action Group and a non-LEADER+
     area, LEADER+ funding will be available for animation (that is, organising and
     setting up the project) in all the areas involved. However, the other costs of the
     project can only be funded by LEADER+ in the area covered by the Local Action
     Group, except where the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
     agrees that the project relates to a very precise theme and requires a larger area
     than that of the Local Action Group alone.

5.48 Action 2 will provide support for two kinds of inter-territorial co-operation.

      (a)   Co-operation between rural areas in Northern Ireland. As indicated above,
            this could be co-operation between two or more Local Action Groups or
            between a Local Action Group and another kind of locally based
            partnership, such as the Strategic Development Partnerships to be
            established under the Peace II Programme or the Development Partnerships
            to be established under the EQUAL Initiative.

      (b)   Co-operation between Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland and rural
            areas in other parts of the United Kingdom. Where the partner groups are in
            England, Scotland or Wales, the expenditure incurred by that group will be
            met by the LEADER+ Programme (or other funding source, in the case of
            non-LEADER+ areas) in the territory concerned.

5.49 When Local Action Groups are awarded funding from Action 1, they will become
     eligible to obtain funding from Action 2 for inter-territorial co-operation. Groups
     will be invited to submit inter-territorial co-operation strategies for the use of
     Action 2 funding to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development within
     6 months of the award of Action 1 funding.

5.50 The funding for inter-territorial co-operation will be released to the Groups as it is
     required to implement their strategies. Where it becomes apparent that a Group
     will not make full use of its allocation, the unused funding will be reallocated.




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Trans-national Co-operation

5.51 Support for trans-national co-operation will be available for joint projects
     developed by a Local Action Group in Northern Ireland and Local Action Groups
     in other Member States of the European Union. The expenditure incurred by
     Local Action Groups outside the United Kingdom will be met by the LEADER+
     Programme of the Member State concerned.

5.52 If a Local Action Group enters into a co-operation project with an area outside the
     European Union organised according to the LEADER approach, only the
     expenditure associated with the project that relates to the Local Action Group’s
     area will be eligible for LEADER+ funding.

5.53 Support will be provided for two kinds of inter-territorial co-operation.

      (a)   Co-operation with the Republic of Ireland. The rural areas of Northern
            Ireland and the rural areas of the Republic of Ireland experience many of the
            same issues, needs and opportunities and there has been a significant
            amount of co-operation between the two jurisdictions on rural development
            issues in the past.

            In addition, North-South co-operation in Ireland was a significant aspect of
            the Multi-Party Agreement reached in Belfast on 10 April 1998. The
            Agreement provided for the establishment of a North South Ministerial
            Council to ‘use best endeavours to reach agreement on the adoption of
            common policies, in areas where there is a mutual cross-border and all-
            island benefit, and which are within the competence of both
            Administrations, North and South’. The Council will also ‘consider the
            European Union dimension of relevant matters, including the
            implementation of EU policies and programmes and proposals under
            consideration in the EU framework.’

            One of the North South Implementation Bodies set up under the provisions
            of the Agreement is the Special EU Programmes Body, which will be
            responsible for the administration of the Peace II Programme, INTERREG
            III and the cross border aspects of LEADER+, URBAN and EQUAL.

            In this context, special provision and arrangements will be put in place in
            both the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme and the Ireland
            LEADER+ Programme to promote co-operation between rural areas in the
            two parts of Ireland.

            A specific allocation of funding from Action 2 of the LEADER+
            Programmes in Northern Ireland and Ireland will be set aside specifically to
            support north-south co-operation projects. This funding will be managed by
            the Cross-Border Steering Committee on Rural Development, which
            comprises officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural
            Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food



110
           and Rural Development in Ireland, and representatives from other
           Departments, Agencies or organisations with an interest in the issues under
           discussion.

           Local Action Groups wishing to implement cross-border co-operation
           projects will submit applications for funding to the Cross-Border Steering
           Committee for consideration. These applications will be assessed by
           reference to the anticipated impact that they will deliver to the rural areas
           concerned. The Committee will take decisions on the applications that it
           receives and forward them to the Special EU Programmes Body for
           information.

           This common text has been agreed with the authorities in the Republic of
           Ireland and is also contained in the Ireland LEADER+ Programme.

           The details of the application process and selection criteria for North-South
           co-operation projects will be agreed by the LEADER+ Monitoring
           Committees in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and specified in
           the Programme Complement.


     (b)   Co-operation with Member States other than the Republic of Ireland. As
           indicated above, this may be a co-operation project between a Local Action
           Group in Northern Ireland and Local Action Groups in one or more Member
           States or between a Local Action Group in Northern Ireland and a rural area
           outside the European Union organised according to the LEADER approach.
           The expenditure incurred by rural areas outside the United Kingdom will be
           met by the authorities of the country concerned.

           When Local Action Groups are awarded funding from Action 1, they will
           become eligible to obtain funding from Action 2 for trans-national co-
           operation with Member States other than the Republic of Ireland. Groups
           will be invited to submit trans-national co-operation strategies for the use of
           Action 2 funding to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
           within 6 months of the award of Action 1 funding.

           The funding for trans-national co-operation will be released to the Groups as
           it is required to implement their strategies. Where it becomes apparent that
           a Group will not make full use of its allocation, the unused funding will be
           reallocated.


Impact

Economic impact

5.54 Action 2 has the same detailed objectives as Action 1. It is therefore anticipated
     that Action 2 will also have an important impact on economic development in



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      Northern Ireland’s rural areas, particularly on the small business sector and that
      the impacts will be the same as those of Action 1.

5.55 As with Action 1, it is anticipated that the identification of four priority groups for
     the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will result in a particularly important
     impact for women, young people, farmers and farm families and the long-term
     unemployed in rural areas.


Impact on community development

5.56 Action 2 will provide Local Action Groups with the opportunity to identify,
     develop and manage projects on a wider scale, thereby helping to develop their
     organisational abilities and to create more outward looking local communities.


Contribution to economic and social cohesion

5.57 Action 2 will contribute to economic cohesion at a number of levels by providing
     support for Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland to work with other rural
     areas in the region, in the different regions of the United Kingdom, on the island
     of Ireland and across the European Union on economic development projects.

5.58 It is anticipated that Action 2 will contribute to social cohesion by establishing
     contacts between rural dwellers in different parts of Northern Ireland, the United
     Kingdom, the island of Ireland and the European Union that would not otherwise
     have been established. As with Action 1, Action 2 will also contribute to social
     inclusion by helping to increase the rates of participation in rural development of
     some of those sectors of the rural population (women, the young, small farmers,
     the long-term unemployed) that have previously been under-represented.


Environmental impact

5.59 The Action is expected to be neutral in terms of its impact on the environment.
     Individual projects will have their environmental impact assessed as part of the
     application process to ensure that they do not have a negative effect on the
     environment.


Impact on equal opportunities

5.60 The integration of men and women into the labour force – As with Action 1,
     Action 2 will create jobs in rural areas and therefore it will have an impact in
     assisting the integration of both men and women into the labour force by
     providing them with new employment opportunities.




112
5.61 Their access to education and vocational training – The Action may have a small
     impact on increasing access to education and vocational training for both women
     and men as it will be possible for it to support some training activities.

5.62 The establishment of women in business – As with Action 1, Action 2 will have a
     positive impact on the establishment of women in business because it will focus
     on the development of small businesses in rural areas and women are one of the
     priority groups for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.

5.63 The reconciliation of family and working life – As with Action 1, it is expected
     that Action 2 will have a small positive impact on this issue as it will provide
     support for the establishment of part-time, as well as full-time, businesses in rural
     areas and for the creation of part-time, as well as full-time, jobs.




                                                                                       113
ACTION 3: NETWORKING


Objectives

5.64 The exchange of achievements, experiences and know-how between interested
     parties was a priority of LEADER II and will continue to be so under LEADER+.

5.65 The aim of Action 3 of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be to
     deepen the developing knowledge on rural development by supporting actions to
     explore, understand and evaluate the lessons gained from the implementation of
     LEADER+. Support will be provided for the networking of all rural areas,
     whether funded by LEADER+ or not, and of all organisations involved in rural
     development.

5.66 The Action will have four main objectives:

      (a)    to help optimise the efficiency and efficacy of the Programme’s
             implementation by facilitating dialogue and transfer of experiences between
             partnerships;

      (b)    to stimulate and facilitate co-operation between rural areas (with support
             from the EU network as appropriate);

      (c)    to draw out the lessons learnt from rural development initiatives (extending
             beyond LEADER+) and to identify and disseminate best practice; and so

      (d)    to stimulate the widest possible experimentation with new approaches to
             rural development.



Measures to be Implemented

5.67 The experience of LEADER II and the responses to the consultation exercise on
     LEADER+ in Northern Ireland suggest that it is essential for the network to
     operate at two main levels – at the regional level, within Northern Ireland, and at
     the national level, across the United Kingdom. It is essential that the networking
     arrangements are able to address the particular needs of the regional level as well
     as facilitating active networking at the national level. England, Scotland and
     Wales also have their own networking requirements as well as a need and desire
     for networking at the national level.

5.68 A single integrated network has been proposed for the UK,and agreed at UK level
     with the England, Scotland and Wales authorities. As there are separate
     Programmes for each of the countries, some networking activities (e.g. seminars,
     targeted workshops) will be delivered at the individual country level. This is



114
     designed to reflect the bottom-up nature of LEADER+ and so will enhance the
     overall level of, and commitment to, networking within the UK.

5.69 Groups in each of the countries will have varying requirements in line with their
     individual Programmes and a full service to local action groups in the four
     countries will be provided. Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales will
     each have their own regional networking requirements as well as a need and
     desire for wider United Kingdom level networking. It will be essential that the
     network capability is able to address the particular needs of the individual country
     as well as facilitating the wider active networking at United Kingdom level.

5.70 There will therefore be a single integrated national network operating at United
     Kingdom level. This national network will also offer a fully integrated
     networking capacity at the level of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
     and targeted at the particular needs of the groups in the individual countries. The
     full integration of the different levels of networking will avoid duplication of
     effort from regional networks operating in the different countries of the United
     Kingdom. It will also provide the most efficient and cost-effective network to
     fulfil the functions identified.


5.71 The national network will have the following roles.

     (a)   Building up a database of organisations and administrations involved in
           rural development.

     (b)   Collecting, analysing and disseminating information on transferable good
           practice in an accessible and easy to use way.

     (c)   Establishing and maintaining a LEADER+ website to facilitate effective
           communications with the widest possible audience.

     (d)   Organising exchanges of experience and know-how, including workshops,
           seminars and conferences.

     (e)   Providing support to LEADER+ Groups, in particular for the new and less
           experienced, including targeting seminars/workshops to address their needs
           and enable them benefit from the knowledge of more experienced Local
           Action Groups.

     (f)   Providing technical assistance for co-operation at national and transnational
           levels, including helping Local Action Groups to find suitable partners.

     (g)   Facilitating good communications between Local Action Groups in the
           United Kingdom and maintaining an effective channel of communication
           between these and the EU network.




                                                                                     115
5.72 It is expected that the national network will be in place and operational by
     September 2001. The contract will be let by competitive tender. (Organisations
     that tender for the UK LEADER+ network will be required to set out how they
     will ensure close liaison with the European Observatory. This will form part of
     the evaluation criteria for the UK LEADER+ Network contract.)

       As agreed by the four Managing Authorities, England, Scotland, Wales and
        Northern Ireland will select the network. MAFF will be in the lead and hold the
        contract. The four authorities will be closely involved throughout the tendering,
        selection and monitoring processes.

       The evaluation panel for selecting the UK network organisation will include
        representatives from all four authorities.

       The UK LEADER + Network Steering Group will monitor and manage the
        contract. The Steering Group will have representatives from all four
        authorities.

5.73 All LEADER+ Local Action Groups supported under Action 1 will be required to
     participate actively in the network. This will mean making available all necessary
     information on actions already undertaken or underway and the results achieved,
     together with participation in the different activities. An assessment of their
     commitment to this (based on provisions set out in their development strategy)
     will be a core part of the selection criteria (see Chapter 7).

5.74 In addition, to secure the wider role envisaged for the network in facilitating rural
     development more generally, all rural areas, whether or not selected under
     LEADER+, will be encouraged to participate in the network.


North-South Networking

5.75 The close links between the rural areas of Northern Ireland and the rural areas of
     the Republic of Ireland and the institutional arrangements for cross-border co-
     operation between the two jurisdictions have been described in section on trans-
     national co-operation under Action 2. In this context, there is an opportunity to
     build on the networking links established between Local Action Groups on both
     sides of the border under LEADER II.

5.76 The Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be
     encouraged to develop closer networking links and arrange more regular meetings
     to facilitate networking on a cross-border basis. Among the ways that this could
     be achieved is making greater use of information technology and establishing a
     link between the websites of the networking bodies on either side of the border.


East-West Networking




116
5.77 In addition to the provisions on North-South relations, the Belfast Agreement also
     contained an East-West strand ‘to promote the harmonious and mutually
     beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these
     islands’. There are many similarities between the rural areas of England,
     Scotland, Wales and both parts of Ireland. Therefore, closer links and more
     regular contact between the Irish LEADER Network and the UK Leader Network
     will be encouraged. As Northern Ireland is part of both the United Kingdom and
     the island of Ireland, it will have a significant role to play in this.


Impact

Economic impact

5.78 Action 3 will not have a direct economic impact. However, it is expected that it
     will have an indirect impact as the objectives of networking include identifying
     and disseminating best practice and this should allow Local Action Groups in
     Northern Ireland to become more effective and efficient in delivering the
     objectives of Actions 1 and 2.


Impact on community development

5.79 Action 3 will have a positive impact on community development since it will
     encourage the exchange of information and dissemination of best practice on a
     range of issues, including managing, developing and strengthening Local Action


     Groups. It will also provide support for new and less experienced Local Action
     Groups, including targeting seminars/workshops to address their needs and enable
     them benefit from the knowledge of more experienced Groups. The Action will
     therefore help to create more outward looking and cohesive local partnerships and
     help to develop their organisational abilities.


Contribution to economic and social cohesion

5.80 It is anticipated that Action 3 will contribute to social cohesion by establishing
     contacts between rural dwellers in different parts of Northern Ireland, the United
     Kingdom, the island of Ireland and the European Union that would not otherwise
     have been established.


Environmental impact

5.81 The Action is expected to be neutral in terms of its impact on the environment.




                                                                                       117
Impact on equal opportunities

5.82 The integration of men and women into the labour force – It is not anticipated that
     Action 3 will have any impact on this issue.

5.83 Their access to education and vocational training – It is not anticipated that Action
     3 will have any impact on this issue.

5.84 The establishment of women in business – It is not anticipated that Action 3 will
     have a direct impact on this issue. However, it may have an indirect impact as the
     identification and dissemination of best practice should allow Local Action
     Groups in Northern Ireland to become more effective and efficient in delivering
     the impacts of Actions 1 and 2, which include encouraging the establishment of
     women in business.

5.85 The reconciliation of family and working life – It is not anticipated that Action 3
     will have any impact on this issue.




118
                                     CHAPTER 6

                                FINANCIAL PLAN


6.1   In accordance with Article 28 of the Commission Notice to Member States on
      LEADER+, this Chapter contains the indicative financing plan by year and
      priority.

6.2   The Community contribution to the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will
      be 15.417 meuro, which is equivalent to 13.68% of the total EAGGF allocation to
      LEADER+ for the United Kingdom.

6.3   The total sterling value of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be
      approximately £20 million (30.834 meuro), depending on the sterling to euro
      exchange rate.

6.4   The authorities in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales have agreed that
      £2 million (3.1 meuro) will be set aside to cover the costs of Networking across
      the United Kingdom. This will cover the costs of the national network and
      provision of fully integrated networking capacity at the level of Northern Ireland,
      England, Scotland and Wales. The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will
      contribute 13.68% of the costs of networking for the United Kingdom.

6.5   1% of the costs of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme will be reserved
      for programme management, monitoring and evaluation.

6.6   The percentages of the funding available for the Northern Ireland LEADER+
      Programme that will be allocated to each Priority are as follows:

           Action 1: Territorial Rural Development Strategies          86%

           Action 2: Co-operation                                      11%

           Action 3: Networking                                          2%

           Programme management, monitoring and evaluation               1%

6.7   The division of the allocation for Action 2 between inter-territorial co-operation,
      co-operation with the Republic of Ireland and trans-national co-operation (see
      paragraphs 5.45 to 5.53) will be agreed by the Monitoring Committee and
      specified in the Programme Complement.




                                                                                       119
6.8   The annual profile of expenditure has been prepared in the context of the annual
      EAGGF allocations for LEADER+ notified to the United Kingdom in
      Commission Notification CC/ab-D(2000)480367.

6.9   In accordance with Article 29(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 the
      contribution from EAGGF-Guidance will be calculated in relation to the total
      eligible cost or the total public (or similar eligible) expenditure.




120
                     Northern Ireland Leader+ 2000-2006: Indicative Annual Financial Plan
        Measures           Total Eligible                             Public expenditure                                Total Private
                           Expenditure                                                                                  Contribution
                                            Total Public        EU Contribution          National    Other
                                            Expenditure                                 Contribution Public
                                                                EAGGF            %
Action 1                          37.951           26.566           13.283        35%          13.283          0.000            11.385
Action 2                           4.906            3.434            1.717        35%            1.717         0.000             1.472
Action 3                           0.446            0.446            0.223        50%            0.223         0.000             0.000
Technical Assistance               0.388            0.388            0.194        50%            0.194         0.000             0.000
Total                             43.691           30.834           15.417        35%          15.417          0.000            12.857

                     Northern Ireland Leader+ 2000-2006: Indicative Annual Financial Plan

        Measures           Total Eligible                             Public expenditure                                Total Private
                           Expenditure                                                                                  Contribution
                                            Total Public         EU Contibution          National    Other
                                            Expenditure                                 Contribution Public
                                                                EAGGF            %


           2001
Action 1                           5.874            4.112            2.056        35%            2.056                           1.762
Action 2                           0.757            0.530            0.265        35%            0.265                           0.227
Action 3                           0.040            0.040            0.020        50%            0.020                           0.000
Technical Assistance               0.050            0.050            0.025        50%            0.025                           0.000
Total                              6.721            4.732            2.366        35%            2.366         0.000             1.989
           2002
Action 1                           5.477            3.834            1.917        35%            1.917                           1.643
Action 2                           0.706            0.494            0.247        35%            0.247                           0.212
Action 3                           0.082            0.082            0.041        50%            0.041                           0.000
Technical Assistance               0.050            0.050            0.025        50%            0.025                           0.000
Total                              6.315            4.460            2.230        35%            2.230         0.000             1.855
           2003
Action 1                           6.243            4.370            2.185        35%            2.185                           1.873
Action 2                           0.806            0.564            0.282        35%            0.282                           0.242
Action 3                           0.082            0.082            0.041        50%            0.041                           0.000
Technical Assistance               0.072            0.072            0.036        50%            0.036                           0.000
Total                              7.203            5.088            2.544        35%            2.544         0.000             2.115
           2004
Action 1                           6.277            4.394            2.197        35%            2.197                           1.883
Action 2                           0.811            0.568            0.284        35%            0.284                           0.243
Action 3                           0.082            0.082            0.041        50%            0.041                           0.000
Technical Assistance               0.072            0.072            0.036        50%            0.036                           0.000
Total                              7.242            5.116            2.558        35%            2.558         0.000             2.126
           2005
Action 1                           6.869            4.808            2.404        35%            2.404                           2.061
Action 2                           0.889            0.622            0.311        35%            0.311                           0.267
Action 3                           0.080            0.080            0.040        50%            0.040                           0.000
Technical Assistance               0.072            0.072            0.036        50%            0.036                           0.000
Total                              7.910            5.582            2.791        35%            2.791         0.000             2.328
           2006
Action 1                           7.211            5.048            2.524        35%            2.524                           2.163
Action 2                           0.937            0.656            0.328        35%            0.328                           0.281
Action 3                           0.080            0.080            0.040        50%            0.040                           0.000
Technical Assistance               0.072            0.072            0.036        50%            0.036                           0.000
Total                              8.300            5.856            2.928        35%            2.928         0.000             2.444
The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme is expected to lever in an additional private contribution not included in this table.
All figures are in meuros Converson rate - £1 = €1.55
                                                                                                                                  121
122
                                     CHAPTER 7

      CRITERIA AND PROCEDURES FOR THE SELECTION OF
                  LOCAL ACTION GROUPS


CRITERIA FOR SELECTION


7.1   The Commission Notice to Member States laying down guidelines for LEADER+
      (2000/c 139/05 of 14 April 2000) includes a number of selection criteria against
      which Local Action Groups and their strategies should be judged. These can be
      grouped together under two headings:

      1.    Eligibility criteria, which applicants must meet if they are to be considered
            for support; and

      2.    Selection criteria, against which the quality of the development strategies
            submitted by eligible groups will be assessed.

7.2   The criteria are set out below. The paragraphs of the Commission Notice to
      Member States relating to each of the criteria are identified in italics. Where
      necessary and appropriate, explanations have been provided of how the criteria
      will be interpreted in the Northern Ireland context.



Eligibility Criteria

7.3   Applicants will be required to meet all of the following eligibility criteria before
      they can be considered for support from LEADER+.

      1.    Only Local Action Groups may be supported by LEADER+ – that is, groups
            that cover a clearly defined geographical area (paragraph 12).

      2.    All rural areas of Northern Ireland will be eligible for inclusion in a
            LEADER+ Local Action Group (paragraph 9). Rural areas of Northern
            Ireland are defined as all parts of Northern Ireland outside the Belfast
            Metropolitan Area, the city of Derry/Londonderry and towns with a
            population greater than 5,000 (see Chapter 1).

      3.    The area covered by a Local Action Group must be of a small size
            (paragraph 14.1).




                                                                                        123
      4.    The area covered by a Local Action Group must:
            (a)   form an homogenous unit in physical, economic and social terms;
            (b)   be coherent; and
            (c)   have sufficient critical mass in terms of human, financial and
                  economic resources to support a viable rural development strategy.
            Artificial divisions of areas that could undermine this coherence will be
            rejected (paragraph 14.1).

      5.    The population of the area covered by a Local Action Group should not be
            less than 10,000 or greater than 100,000 (paragraph 14.1).

      6.    The boundaries of the areas covered by Local Action Groups do not have to
            coincide with established administrative boundaries (paragraph 14.1). In
            Northern Ireland, Local Action Groups that do not follow the boundaries of
            District Councils or counties will be eligible to apply for LEADER+
            support. However, in all cases, the areas must meet the requirements of
            eligibility criteria 3, 4 and 5.

      7.    The members of the Local Action Group must be locally based
            (paragraph 12). This will be interpreted to mean that the members of the
            Local Action Group should either live or have a significant work interest in
            the area covered by the Group.

      8.    The membership of the Local Action Group must consist of a balanced and
            representative selection of partners drawn from different socio-economic
            sectors (paragraph 12). The membership of the Local Action Group should
            show a balance in the representation of men and women and have a
            religious composition representative of the population of the area that it
            covers. The membership of the Group should include representatives of the
            main public, private and voluntary sector interests in the area.

      9.    At the decision making level of the group, the economic and social partners
            and associations must make up at least 50% of the partnership
            (paragraph 12). This means that the Board of the Local Action Group and
            any sub-groups that have the authority to take decisions on projects much
            each have less than half their members drawn from the public sector,
            including elected councillors, MLAs, council officers, civil servants and the
            representatives of statutory bodies. Advisory groups may have a higher
            proportion of public sector members, as long as these groups have no
            decision-making role.

      10.   The members of the Local Action Group must either:
            (a)   Select an administrative and financial leader with the ability to
                  administer public funds who will be responsible for the satisfactory
                  operation of the partnership; or



124
            (b)   Come together in a legally constituted common structure, the statutes
                  of which guarantee the satisfactory operation of the partnership and
                  the ability to administer public funds (paragraph 12).
            The experience of previous rural development programmes in Northern
            Ireland has shown that the most satisfactory way organising groups such as
            Local Action Groups has been to establish them as Companies Limited by
            Guarantee. Although prospective Local Action Groups will be free to select
            their own form of organisation in line with their own needs, any alternatives
            must be compatible with the need to ensure full accountability for public
            funds and must be acceptable to the Department of Agriculture and Rural
            Development.

      11.   The development strategy drawn up by the Local Action Group must be
            based around one of the central themes listed in Chapter 5. However, more
            than one theme can be involved if the strategy is demonstrated to be
            internally consistent. Strategies that are simply a collection of projects or
            list of sectoral measures will not be supported (paragraph 14.2(a)).

7.4   In addition to the eligibility criteria outlined in the Commission Notice to Member
      States, the following basic eligibility criteria will also be applied in Northern
      Ireland.

      12.   The area covered by the Local Action Group must not overlap with the area
            covered by another Local Action Group. This means that no rural part of
            Northern Ireland may be covered by more that one Local Action Group.
            Where this occurs, the prospective Local Action Groups involved will be
            advised of the clash and asked to reconsider their boundaries.

      13.   Local Action Groups must provide a written commitment to actively
            involve themselves in co-operation and networking activities at the Northern
            Ireland, United Kingdom, island of Ireland and European Union levels.


Selection Criteria

7.5   The Commission Notice to Member States requires LEADER+ funding to be
      targeted at the most promising strategies in order to extract the maximum benefit
      from the available resources (paragraph 9). Eligible applications will be assessed
      and scored against the following criteria in line with the procedure described
      below. The scores achieved against these criteria will inform the decisions on
      which strategies will receive funding and what level of resources will be provided
      to them.

      1.    The extent to which the development strategy will actively enhance the job
            opportunities for and/or activities of women, young people, farm families
            and the long-term unemployed in rural areas (paragraph 14.2(a)). The
            Commission Notice to Member States indicates that priority should be given
            to strategies that focus on women and young people. Farm families and the



                                                                                      125
           long-term unemployed have been added to the list of priority groups in
           Northern Ireland.

      2.   The extent of the ‘pilot nature’ of the development strategy. The strategy
           will be assessed on the degree to which it is new by comparison to previous
           practice in the area concerned and the methods used and planned in
           “mainstream” programmes. By way of illustration, the Commission Notice
           to Member States suggests that the ‘pilot’ concept can be assessed by
           reference to the following issues:
           (a)   the emergence of new products and services which incorporate the
                 distinctiveness of the local area;
           (b)   new methods permitting the combination of the area’s human, natural
                 and/or financial resources, resulting in better use of indigenous
                 potential;
           (c)   the creation of links between and combination of economic sectors
                 which are traditionally separate; and
           (d)   the application of original forms of organisation and involvement of
                 the local population in the decision making process and in
                 implementing the project.
           It is the strategy, rather than the Local Action Group, which will be assessed
           on its pilot nature. Therefore, the application of the LEADER approach to
           an area which was not covered by LEADERs I and II will not be sufficient
           in its own right to justify the title ‘pilot’ (paragraph 14.2(c)).

      3.   The extent to which the development strategy is integrated and adopts a
           global approach based on the interaction between actors, sectors and
           projects and unites all the actors and projects in the various fields
           contributing to the development strategy (paragraph 14.2(a)).

      4.   The extent to which the strategy is coherent with the character of the
           territory, particularly in socio-economic terms (paragraph 14.2(b)). This
           will involve an assessment of the extent to which the objectives, central
           theme and proposed activities of the development strategy reflect the
           identified needs and opportunities of the area.

      5.   The economic viability of the development strategy (paragraph 14.2(b)).
           This will involve an assessment of whether the proposals are likely to have a
           realistic chance of success in achieving their objectives without the need for
           further public intervention.

      6.   The sustainability of the development strategy (paragraph 14.2(b)). The
           Commission Notice to Member States indicates that strategies should use
           resources in such a way that the options available to future generations are
           not undermined. In the Northern Ireland context, sustainability will also be
           taken to include social sustainability – that is, the strategy should help to




126
            sustain the community of the area that it covers – and the sustainability of
            the impacts after the completion of the strategy.

      7.    The degree of transferability of the strategy and the methods proposed by
            the Local Action Group. The LAG must undertake to make what they learn
            about methodology and results available to the LEADER network
            (paragraph 14.2(d)).

      8.    The complementarity of the development strategy with ‘mainstream’
            programmes (paragraph 14.2(e)). The activities outlined in development
            strategies must complement other rural development schemes and
            programmes and the work of District Councils, Local Enterprise Agencies
            and Strategic Development Partnerships in their areas.

      9.    The ability of the members of the Local Action Group to devise and
            implement a development strategy for their area (paragraph 12). For
            existing Local Action Groups, the past performance of the group in terms of
            delivering outputs and impacts, committing resources and the quality of the
            partnership will be taken into consideration. For new Local Action Groups,
            the experience of the members of the group in devising and implementing
            strategies or business plans and their previous involvement in partnership
            organisations will be considered. In all cases, the level of administration
            costs must be kept to the absolute minimum necessary to implement the
            strategy.

      10.   The relevance and effectiveness of the partnership is to be assessed in terms
            of the transparency and clarity of the allocation of tasks and responsibilities
            between its members. The ability of the members to carry out the tasks
            assigned to them, and the effectiveness of the operational and decision-
            making arrangements, must be guaranteed (paragraph 12).

7.6   In addition to the criteria indicated in the Commission Notice to Member States,
      the following selection criteria will also be applied in Northern Ireland.

      11.   The extent of the anticipated impact of the development strategy in the rural
            area that it relates to, particularly the impact on creating, sustaining and
            retaining jobs in the area.

      12.   The extent to which the strategy will facilitate the participation of all sectors
            of the rural population in the planning, management and delivery of
            LEADER+.

      13.   The extent to which the strategy will target disadvantage and the needs of
            disadvantaged or marginalised groups in the area that it covers.

      14.   The extent to which equal opportunities and wider equality issues have been
            taken into account in the development strategy.




                                                                                         127
APPLICATION AND SELECTION PROCEDURES


7.7   The European Commission has stated that LEADER+ funding should be targeted
      at the most promising strategies in order to extract the maximum benefit from the
      available resources. Therefore, funding can be granted to only a limited number
      of Local Action Groups and those groups that are chosen to receive funding must
      be selected using an open and rigorous selection procedure.


Call for Proposals

7.8   There will be one call for proposals in Northern Ireland. The call for proposals
      will specify the information to be provided by prospective Local Action Groups,
      including the information required to allow the proposed development strategies
      to be assessed against the selection criteria. Prospective Local Action Groups will
      be asked to develop their proposals within a total budget of £1.5 million (2.33
      meuro).

7.9   Prospective Local Action Groups will be allowed 13 weeks from the date of the
      call for proposals to submit their proposed development strategies. If it is possible
      to issue the call for proposals in November, the closing date for the submission of
      proposed development strategies will be in mid-February 2001.

7.10 The proposed development strategies submitted to the Department by the closing
     date will be checked for completeness by the staff of Rural Development
     Division. Staff will contact the applicants to clear up any queries or request
     further information, where this is required.


Assessment Panel

7.11 Proposed development strategies will be considered by a 10 member assessment
     panel made up of representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development, the Equality Commission, the Local Enterprise Development Unit,
     the rural community and two independent members selected for their knowledge
     of rural areas.

7.12 The membership will be
           RDD Central Unit representative (chair)
           Rural Area Co-ordinators (3)
           Equality Commission (1)
           LEDU (1) – involvement to be confirmed
           Chairperson of the Rural Development Council (1)
           Chairperson of the Rural Community Network (1)



128
           Independent members (2)


Selection Procedure

7.13 The selection procedure will have two stages.

      1.    The eligibility of the prospective Local Action Groups and their proposed
            development strategies will be assessed against the eligibility criteria
            outlined in paragraphs 7.3 and 7.4.

      2.    The eligible groups and development strategies will be assessed and scored
            against the selection criteria outlined in paragraphs 7.5 and 7.6. This
            assessment and scoring will inform the final decision on which groups will
            be supported and the level of resources that they will receive.


Assessment of eligibility

7.14 The eligibility of all applications received by the closing date will assessed by the
     assessment panel using the information contained in the proposed development
     strategies and any additional information obtained from follow up contact with the
     applicants.

7.15 Applicants ruled out at this stage will be informed immediately following the
     decision. They will also be provided with a full explanation of the reasons why
     they were considered to be ineligible and offered the opportunity to appeal against
     that decision. The appeals procedure is outlined in paragraphs 7.27 to 7.30.


Assessment and Scoring of Eligible Applications

7.16 The assessment and scoring of the eligible Local Action Groups and development
     strategies will take place at a second meeting of the assessment panel.

7.17 Those applications judged to be eligible will be circulated for consultation to
     central government Departments and local authorities with an interest in the areas
     and activities covered by the applications in advance of the second meeting of the
     selection panel. Any comments received from that consultation will be
     considered against the appropriate criteria in the assessment and scoring process.

7.18 The members of the assessment panel will be invited to award each development
     strategy a score out of 10 against each of the 14 selection criteria outlined above.
     The scores of the 10 members of the assessment panel will be averaged to give a
     score out of 10 for each of the criteria.




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7.19 Because the selection criteria are not all of equal importance, they will not carry
     the same weight. The totalled scores awarded to each Local Action Group against
     each of the 14 selection criteria will be weighted as follows.

                                       Criteria                                   Weight
       1.    The extent to which the development strategy will actively             20
             enhance the job opportunities for and/or activities of women,
             young people, farm families and the long-term unemployed in
             rural areas.
       2.    The extent of the ‘pilot nature’ of the development strategy.          15
       3.    The extent to which the development strategy is integrated and         15
             adopts a global approach based on the interaction between
             actors, sectors and projects and unites all the actors and
             projects in the various fields contributing to the development
             strategy.
       4.    The extent to which the strategy is coherent with the territory,       15
             particularly in socio-economic terms.
       5.    The economic viability of the development strategy.                    10
       6.    The sustainability of the development strategy.                        15
       7.    The degree of transferability of the strategy and the methods          15
             proposed by the Local Action Group.
       8.    The complementarity of the development strategy with                   15
             ‘mainstream’ programmes.
       9     The ability of the members of the Local Action Group to devise         15
             and implement a development strategy for their area.
       10.   The relevance and effectiveness of the partnership.                    10
       11.   The extent of the anticipated impact of the development                25
             strategy in the rural area that it relates to, particularly the
             impact on creating, sustaining and retaining jobs in the area.
       12.   The extent to which the strategy will facilitate the participation     10
             of all sectors of the rural population in the planning,
             management and delivery of LEADER+.
       13.   The extent to which the strategy will target disadvantage and          10
             the needs of disadvantaged or marginalised groups in the area
             that it covers.
       14.   The extent to which equal opportunities and wider equality             10
             issues have been taken into account in the development
             strategy.



7.20 When the weighted scores achieved against each of the 14 selection criteria are
     totalled, each Local Action Group will have a score out of 2,000. The Local
     Action Groups with the highest scores will be selected for support.




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7.21 Local Action Groups that are unsuccessful in the selection process will be
     informed immediately following the decision. They will also be provided with a
     full explanation of the reasons why their strategy was not successful and offered
     the opportunity to appeal against that decision. The appeals procedure is outlined
     in paragraphs 7.29 to 7.32.


Funding Allocation

7.22 90% of the funding available for Action 1 will be allocated to the successful Local
     Action Groups when they are selected. One of the lessons arising from the
     analysis of the previous operations (see paragraphs 2.37 and 2.51) was that there
     should be flexibility to allocate additional funds to areas where the take up is high.
     Therefore, 10% of the funding for Action 1 will be held back for allocation to
     areas where take up is high after the mid-term evaluation.

7.23 The initial funding allocation to successful Local Action Groups will be decided
     by reference to three issues:

      (a)   the weighted scores achieved by the successful Groups in the selection
            process – this will account for 60% of the funding allocated at this stage;

      (b)   the geographic size of the successful Groups – this will account for 20% of
            the funding allocated at this stage; and

      (c)   the population of the successful Groups – this will account for 20% of the
            funding allocated at this stage.

7.24 The process for calculating the funding allocations will be as follows.

      1.    The funding available under Action 1 for the initial allocation to the
            successful Local Action Groups will be divided between weighted scores,
            geographical size and population sizes in line with the percentages outlined
            in paragraph 7.24.

      2.    The weighted scores of all successful Local Action Groups will be totalled.

      3.    Each successful Group’s weighted score will be divided by the total
            weighted scores of all successful groups. The result of this calculation will
            be multiplied by 100 to give a percentage. The Group will be allocated this
            percentage of the amount of funding available for allocation on the basis of
            the weighted scores.

      4.    The geographical sizes (in km2) of all successful Local Action Groups will
            be totalled.

      5.    Each successful Group’s geographical size will be divided by the total
            weighted geographical size of all successful groups. The result of this



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             calculation will be multiplied by 100 to give a percentage. The Group will
             be allocated this percentage of the amount of funding available for
             allocation on the basis of geographical size.

       6.    The populations of all successful Local Action Groups will be totalled.

       7.    Each successful Group’s population will be divided by the total population
             of all successful groups. The result of this calculation will be multiplied by
             100 to give a percentage. The Group will be allocated this percentage of the
             amount of funding available for allocation on the basis of population.

       8.    The results of the three calculations for each successful Group will be added
             together to give the total allocation to that Group.

7.25 Figure 17 illustrates how the allocation process will work in practice.


Figure 17: Illustration of allocation process

For the purposes of the illustration, it is assumed that the total amount of funding available for Action 1
is £13.33 million (20.67 meuro).

10% of the funding available for Action 1 (£1.33 million) (2.07 meuro) will be held back for allocation
after the mid-term evaluation.

The remaining £12 million (18.60 meuro)of the funding available for Action 1 will be allocated to the
successful Local Action Groups as follows:
     60% (£7.2 million) (11.16 meuro) will be allocated on the basis of weighted scores;
     20% (£2.4 million) (3.72 meuro) will be allocated on the basis of geographical size; and
     20% (£2.4 million) (3.72 meuro) will be allocated on the basis of population size.

Weighted scores

It is assumed for the purpose of this example that the weighted scores of all the successful Local
Action Groups total 15,000.

Group A achieved a weighted score of 1,500. Its funding allocation will be:
(1,500  15,000) x 100 = 10%
Group A’s funding allocation = £7.2 million (11.16 meuro) x 10% = £720,000 (1,116,000)

Group B achieved a weighted score of 1,200. Its funding allocation will be:
(1,200  15,000) x 100 = 8%
Group B’s funding allocation = £7.2 million (11.16 meuro) x 8% = £576,000 (892,800)




132
 Figure 17: Illustration of allocation process (continued)

 Geographical size

 It is assumed for the purpose of this example that the total geographical area of the successful
                                  2
 Local Action Groups is 1,000 km .
                                   2
 Group A covers an area of 90 km . Its funding allocation will be:
 (90  1,000) x 100 = 9%
 Group A’s funding allocation = £2.4 million (3.72 meuro) x 9% = £216,000 (334,800 euros)
                                       2
 Group B covers an area of 120 km . Its funding allocation will be:
 (120  1,000) x 100 = 12%
 Group B’s funding allocation = £2.4 million (3.72 meuro)x 12% = £288,000 (446,400 euros)

 Population

 It is assumed for the purpose of this example that the total population of the successful Local
 Action Groups is 300,000.

 Group A has a population of 36,000. Its funding allocation will be:
 (39,000  300,000) x 100 = 13%
 Group A’s funding allocation = £2.4 million (3.72 meuro)x 13% = £312,000 (483,600 euros)

 Group B has a population of 27,000. Its funding allocation will be:
 (21,000  300,000) x 100 = 7%
 Group B’s funding allocation = £2.4 million (3.72 meuro) x 7% = £168,000 (260,400 euros)

 Overall allocations

                                                   Group A                         Group B
 Allocated on the basis of the              £720,000      1,116,000       £576,000         892,800
 weighted scores
 Allocated on the basis of                  £216,000         334,800      £288,000         446,400
 geographic size
 Allocated on the basis of population       £312,000         483,600      £168,000         260,400
 size
 Total Allocation                          £1,248,000    1,934,400        £1,032,00      1,599,600
                                                                                  0




Business Plans

7.26 Successful Local Action Groups will be asked to prepare business plans based on
     the total funding allocation awarded to them. The business plans will describe
     precisely how the Groups propose to implement their strategies, including detailed
     financial plans.

7.27 Groups will be asked to submit their business plans within no more than 3 months
     of the request.




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Appeals Procedure

7.28 Applicants ruled out in the eligibility assessment or from eligible Local Action
     Groups that are unsuccessful in the selection procedure will be offered the
     opportunity to appeal against the decisions affecting them.

7.29 Appeals will be considered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development

7.30 None of the members of the selection panel will be involved in the assessment of
     appeals.




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                                   CHAPTER 8

          INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY ARRANGEMENTS


8.1   Information and Publicity measures to be carried out by the Member States
      concerning assistance from the Structural Funds shall conform to the provisions of
      Article 46 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/99 (the General Regulation) and
      the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1159/2000 of 30 May 2000 on information
      and publicity measures to be carried out by the Member States concerning
      assistance from the Structural Funds.

8.2   The enabling Commission Regulation puts forward a common methodology and
      approach for persons responsible for carrying out information and publicity
      measures that take account of the specific situation of each Member State. As the
      Managing Authority responsible for implementing the programme, the
      Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will be responsible for
      publicity on the spot. Publicity will be carried out in co-operation with the
      European Commission, which will be informed of measures taken for this
      purpose.

8.3   The Head of Rural Development Division will be responsible for all information
      and publicity of the LEADER+ Programme.


Arrangements to Inform Potential Beneficiaries

8.4   To inform potential beneficiaries about the LEADER+ Programme, the
      Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will:

          Write to all interested parties, i.e. all consultees and those bodies who
           submitted “mini business plans”, on an ongoing basis informing them of any
           developments.

          Use all means of publicity available including advertising, the issue of press
           releases and use of the DARD web site.


Arrangements to Inform the General Public

8.5   To inform the general public about the LEADER+ Programme, the Department of
      Agriculture and Rural Development will

          Include details of the LEADER+ Initiative in the Department of Agriculture
           and Rural Development’s Rural Development Programme Strategy for
           2000-2006.



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          Use all means of publicity available including advertising, the dissemination
           of press releases, publicity photographs and use of the DARD web site.

          Require successful Local Action Groups to develop a strategy for
           publicising LEADER+ in their areas.

8.6   In addition, the Department of Agriculture will prepare a Public Relations
      Strategy as a major aspect of the implementation of the Rural Development
      Programme as a whole. The promotion of the LEADER+ Programme will form a
      significant part of that Public Relations Strategy.

8.7   The information and publicity measures put in place will be presented in a
      structured form (“communication plan”), clearly setting out the aims and target
      groups, the content and strategy of the measures and an indicative budget.
      Funding for information and publicity is included in the programme management,
      monitoring and evaluation priority of the Programme.




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                                     CHAPTER 9

      IMPLEMENTATION, MANAGEMENT AND MONITORING
                    ARRANGEMENTS


GENERAL


9.1   In accordance with the requirements of Article 19.3(d) of Council Regulation
      (EC) No 1260/99 of 21 June 1999 (the General Regulation), this Chapter sets out
      the implementing provisions for the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.
      This has been developed taking into account the requirements of the General
      Regulation and those of the enabling Commission Regulations on the euro and
      financial corrections, which are in the process of being formally adopted.

9.2   The provisions relating to the eligibility of expenditure are set out in paragraphs
      5.26 and 5.27.

9.3   The provisions relating to information and publicity are set out in Chapter 8.




MANAGEMENT


The Managing Authority

9.4   The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will be
      the Managing Authority for the LEADER+ Programme. In carrying out the
      functions laid down in Article 34 of the General Regulation, the Department will
      work in close liaison with the Special EU Programmes Body set up under the
      provision of the Belfast Agreement (1998).

9.5   The Managing Authority will seek the advice of the LEADER+ Monitoring
      Committee (see paragraphs 9.72 to 9.79) on what sort of management
      arrangements should be used in managing and implementing the Programme. The
      Managing Authority will also consult the Monitoring Committee on any changes
      to the arrangements that become necessary during the course of the Programme.

9.6   It is the Managing Authority that will agree the management arrangements for the
      Programme, taking into account the advice of the Programme Monitoring
      Committee. The Managing Authority will ensure that such arrangements are
      recorded. The Managing Authority remains responsible at all times for the
      management of the Programme.



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9.7   In managing the Programme, the Managing Authority, in consultation with the
      Monitoring Committee, will seek, amongst other things, to ensure the following,
      putting in place monitoring and adapting arrangements as necessary:

             the effective delivery of priorities and measures and their outputs and
              targets;

             encouragement to and support for the development of projects, particularly
              amongst those who have little experience of obtaining assistance from the
              Structural Funds;

             the effective implementation of cross-cutting themes;

             conversion of the strategic focus into good quality projects;

             effective, fair and timely appraisal of project proposals; and

             the dissemination of good practice.

9.8   Details of the management arrangements in place at any one time will be held by
      the secretariat (see paragraphs 9.10 to 9.12) and be available on request.

9.9   In respect of the management arrangements, the Monitoring Committee will also
      advise the Managing Authority on whether there is a need for any working groups
      (see paragraphs 9.80 and 9.81).


Secretariat

9.10 The Managing Authority shall be assisted by a secretariat, which shall be provided
     by Rural Development Division of the Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development.

9.11 The detail of the secretariat’s tasks and responsibilities for the day to day
     administration of the Programme will be agreed at the first LEADER+ Monitoring
     Committee meeting. However, the key responsibilities of the secretariat will
     include:

             ensuring the efficient and correct management and implementation of the
              Programme;

             drawing up a work programme to present to the first Monitoring Committee
              meeting for consideration;

             advising on the regulations;

             drafting guidance on implementation;



138
          contributing towards publicity material;

          drawing up a framework and co-ordinating work on the drafting of annual
           reports; and

          gathering financial and monitoring information.

9.12 In support of the Monitoring Committee, the secretariat will:

          prepare and circulate invitations, agendas and papers; and

          draft the minutes of meetings.


Paying Authority

9.13 According to Article 9(o) of the General Regulation, the Paying Authority is
     responsible for drawing up and submitting certified payment applications and
     receiving payments from the Commission.

9.14 The Paying Authority for the LEADER+ Programme is the Department of
     Agriculture and Rural Development, Room 325, Dundonald House, Upper
     Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB, Telephone 028 90 524557, Fax 028 90
     524148


9.15 The Paying Authority will fulfil its functions in accordance with Article 32 of the
     General Regulation. In carrying out the tasks of the Managing and Paying
     Authorities, there will be a clear separation of duties within the Department of
     Agriculture and Rural Development.


FINANCIAL IMPLEMENTATION


Financial Contributions by the Structural Funds

9.16 In accordance with Article 28(1) of the General Regulation, any project within the
     Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme may benefit from a contribution from the
     EAGGF Guidance Section only. An operation may not be financed
     simultaneously by the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme and any other
     Programme or Community Initiative. An operation financed by LEADER+ may
     not be simultaneously financed under the EAGGF Guarantee Section.

9.17 In accordance with Article 28(2) of the General Regulation, the contribution of the
     EAGGF Guidance Section must be consistent with the financial plan laid down in
     the decision approving the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.



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9.18 In accordance with Article 28(3) of the general Regulation, the contribution of the
     EAGFF Guidance Section shall principally take the form of non-repayable direct
     assistance (hereafter referred to as ‘direct assistance’), as well as other forms such
     as repayable assistance, interest rate subsidy, guarantees, equity holding, venture
     capital holding or another form of assistance. Assistance repaid to the Managing
     Authority shall be reallocated to the same purpose.


Differentiation of Rates of Contribution

9.19 In accordance with Articles 29(3) and 29(4) of the General Regulation, the
     contribution of the EAGGF Guidance Section shall be subject to the following
     ceilings:

      (a)   a maximum of 75% of the total eligible cost and, as a general rule, at least
            50% of eligible public expenditure; and

      (b)   in the case of investment in firms, 35% of the total eligible cost. This rate
            may be increased in the case of investments in small and medium-sized
            undertakings for forms of finance other than direct assistance, provided that
            this increase does not exceed 10% of the total eligible cost.

      The contribution of the EAGFF Guidance Section shall comply with the ceilings
      on the rate of aid and on the combinations of aid set in the field of State aids.


Community Budget Commitments

General

9.20 In accordance with Article 31(1) and 31(2) of the General Regulation, the
     Community budget commitments are made on the basis of the decision approving
     the Programme. The first commitment is made when the Commission adopts this
     decision and subsequent commitments will be effected as a general rule by 30
     April each year.


Decommitments

9.21 In accordance with Article 31(3) of the General Regulation, the Commission will
     automatically decommit any part of a commitment (other than any part which has
     been settled by the payment on account – see paragraphs 9.27 and 9.28) for which
     it has not received an acceptable payment application by the end of the second
     year following the year of commitment. The contribution of the EAGGF
     Guidance Section will be reduced by that amount.




140
9.22 In other terms, at the end of 2002, the Commission will decommit (and
     automatically reduce the amount of contribution of the EAGGF Guidance Section
     allocated to the Programme) any part of the first year commitment, less the
     payment on account, for which an acceptable payment claim has not been
     received. Similarly, at the end of 2003, the Commission will decommit any part
     of the second year commitment, less any payment on account of this split over
     two years, for which it has not received an acceptable payment application. For
     subsequent years, there can be no payment on account, and therefore the
     Commission will decommit any part of a commitment which has not been part of
     an acceptable payment claim. Finally, the Commission will decommit any part of
     the total commitment to the Programme for which an acceptable payment
     application has not been received by the deadline for the transmission of the final
     report (end of June 2009).

9.23 The period for automatic decommitment shall cease to run for that part of the
     commitment corresponding to operations which, at the specified date of
     decommitment, are the subject of a judicial procedure or an administrative appeal
     having suspensory effects, subject to the Commission receiving prior information
     giving reasons from the Northern Ireland authorities and to information being
     issued by the Commission.

9.24 In any case, the Commission shall in good time inform the Northern Ireland
     authorities and the Paying Authority whenever there is a risk of application of an
     automatic decommitment as referred to above.


Payments

Payments at Community level

9.25 Following the provisions of Article 32 of the General Regulation, payments by the
     Commission of the contribution from the EAGGF Guidance Section shall be
     made, in accordance with the corresponding budget commitments, to the Paying
     Authority as defined in paragraphs 9.13 to 9.15.

9.26 Payments may take the form of payments on account, interim payments and
     payments of the final balance.


Payments on Account

9.27 In accordance with Article 32(2) of the General Regulation, the Commission will
     pay to the Paying Authority 7% of the total contribution from the EAGGF
     Guidance Section to the Programme. In principle, the payment on account may be
     subdivided over two budget years at most, depending on the availability of budget
     funds.




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9.28 Also in accordance with Article 32(2), all or part of the payment on account
     depending on progress towards implementation of the Programme will be repaid
     to the Commission if not payment application has been received within 18 months
     of the decision approving the Programme.


Interim Payments

9.29 In accordance with Articles 32(2) and 32(3) of the General Regulation, the
     payments on account are used to pay end beneficiaries. The Commission will
     make further payments (interim payments) based on declarations of expenditure
     certified by the Paying Authority to reimburse expenditure paid to end
     beneficiaries. These further payments are subject to the following conditions:

           The Programme Complement, containing the information specified in
            paragraphs 10.1 to 10.3, is submitted on time to the Commission;

           The latest annual implementation report, containing the information
            specified in paragraphs 9.84 to 9.87, is forwarded to the Commission

           The mid-term evaluation of the Programme, as referred to in paragraphs
            11.3 to 11.6, is submitted to the Commission when due.

9.30 The Member State will, as far as possible, present applications for interim
     payments to the Commission in batches three times a year. The last application
     should be presented no later than 31 October.

9.31 As required by Article 32(7) of the General Regulation, the Member State shall
     send the Commission their updated forecasts of applications for payment for the
     current year and the forecast for the following year, by 30 April each year.


Payments of the Final Balance

9.32 The final balance of the assistance will be paid if:

           Within six months of the deadline laid down by the decision approving the
            Programme, the Paying Authority submits to the Commission a certified
            statement of expenditure actually paid out;

           The final report, containing the information specified in paragraphs 9.88 to
            9.90, has been forwarded to and approved by the Commission; and

           In accordance with Article 38(1)f of the General Regulation, the Member
            State has presented to the Commission a declaration drawn up by the
            Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Internal Audit
            Division, the content of which is specified in Regulation 438/2001.




142
9.33 As set out in Article 32(5) of the General Regulation, the final payment may no
     longer be corrected at the request of the Member State if the Paying Authority has
     not forwarded an application to the Commission within 9 months from the date of
     the transfer of the final balance.


Payments by the Member State

9.34 In accordance with Article 32(1) of the General Regulation, the Paying Authority
     shall ensure that final beneficiaries receive payment in full and as quickly as
     possible. No deduction, retention or further specific charge which would reduce
     these amounts shall be made.


Payments on Account

9.35 In accordance with Article 32(2) of the General Regulation, throughout the
     lifetime of the assistance, the Paying Authority shall use the payment on account
     to pay the Community contribution to expenditure relating to the assistance. Any
     interest earned on the payment on account will be allocated by the Paying
     Authority to the Programme.


Declaration of Expenditure

9.36 In accordance with Article 32(3) and 32(4) of the General Regulation, interim
     payments and payments of the final balance must correspond to expenditure
     actually paid out as certified by the Paying Authority, which must correspond to
     payments effected by the final beneficiaries, supported by receipted invoices or
     accounting documents of equivalent probative value. This constitutes the
     declaration of expenditure.

9.37 Payments will be calculated at the level of measures contained in the financing
     plan of the Programme Complement. In order to demonstrate the link between the
     financing plan and expenditure actually paid out, the declaration of expenditure
     should present financial information in the following manner:

          Broken down by year;

          Broken down by priority and measure; and

          Distinguishing for each priority between expenditure made in areas
           receiving full and transitional support.




                                                                                   143
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT


9.38 In the United Kingdom, the treatment of Structural Funds expenditure is based on
     the principle that receipts from the Commission should be managed, disbursed
     and monitored in exactly the same way and using the same systems as the UK’s
     own public expenditure. The basic principles of UK Government Accounting
     apply to these receipts, the most important being:

          parliamentary scrutiny and accountability;

          the identification of an Accounting Officer responsible for the funds under
           his or her control;

          a statutory basis for all expenditure, whether from a national or EC source.

9.39 Detailed provisions for handling transactions are contained in the Department of
     Finance and Personnel’s procedural guide “Government Accounting NI”.

9.40 A feature of UK public sector financial management and control is the obligatory
     requirement to submit all public-expenditure operations to periodic audits. This
     covers both the financial systems in operation and an annual audit of specific
     payments made by the Member State. Financial control is further maintained
     through the separation of duties between those responsible for the certifying and
     authorising of payment claims, to safeguard against the possibility of a personal
     involvement in a project or fraud,

9.41 Payments from the Commission in respect of LEADER+ will be received in a
     Treasury Account at the Bank of England where they will be converted into
     Sterling. The Sterling amounts will be transferred via the Northern Ireland Office
     to the Department of Finance and Personnel’s PMG account and held in a
     specifically identified account for the LEADER+ Programme.

9.42 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will issue offers of grant
     to Local Action Groups and receive payment claims from the Local Action
     Groups to which it has issued offers. All payment claims will be backed up by
     invoices or other accounting documents. The Department will check each
     payment claim against the offer of grant and the project papers and ensure
     consistency with the performance targets and eligibility rules. If acceptable, the
     Department will authorise payment on the basis of the eligible expenditure
     incurred, access the LEADER+ funds held in the specific account within the PMG
     account and issue payment to the Local Action Group. The functions of checking,
     authorisation and payment are separated within the Department.


9.43 In accordance with Article 32(1) of the General Regulation, the Paying Authority
     shall ensure that final beneficiaries receive payment in full and as quickly as




144
     possible. No deduction, retention or further specific charge that would reduce
     these amounts shall be made.

9.44 In order to facilitate the verification of expenditure by Community and National
     control authorities, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development shall
     maintain an accounting system capable of providing detailed and complete
     summaries of all transactions involving Community assistance.

9.45 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for carrying
     out the 5% verification checks on payment claims. They are also responsible for
     investigating and drawing up reports on any alleged irregularities. These are then
     forwarded to the Department of Finance and Personnel as the Managing Authority
     for all funds, and then forwarded to the Department of Trade and Industry, which
     submits the four-monthly returns to the Commission together with details of
     follow-up actions.

9.46 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will draw up and certify
     payment applications to the Commission based on the payment claims received
     from Local Action Groups that have been checked and paid. These payment
     applications will be in euros, the conversion from Sterling being in accordance
     with the regulatory requirement (see paragraph 9.48).

9.47 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Internal Audit Division
     will undertake audits of the management and control systems implemented by the
     Department and provide a declaration to accompany the final payment
     application. The Internal Audit Division will act to maximise effectiveness and
     consistency and eliminate duplication. The declaration will relate to the extent to
     which the Department has provided for and implemented the regulatory financial
     management and control requirements determined during the audit visits.


Use of the Euro and Conversion Rates

9.48 In accordance with Article 33 of the General Regulation, all commitments and
     payments are made in euros. Statements of expenditure have also to be made in
     euros. Since the United Kingdom does not have the euro as its national currency,
     amounts of expenditure incurred in Sterling will be converted into euros by
     applying the rate in force on the last but one working day at the Commission in
     the month preceding the month during which the expenditure was recorded in the
     accounts of the Paying Authority.




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FINANCIAL CONTROL AND FINANCIAL CORRECTIONS


General provisions

9.49 In accordance with Article 38(1) of the General Regulation, primary responsibility
     for the financial control of Structural Funds assistance lies with the Member State.

9.50 In accordance with Article 38(2) of the General Regulation, officials of the
     Commission may carry out checks without prejudice to checks carried out by the
     Member State, in accordance with national laws, regulations and administrative
     provisions.

9.51 In accordance with Article 38(3) of the General Regulation, the Commission and
     the UK shall, on the basis of bilateral administrative arrangements, co-operate to
     co-ordinate plans, methods and implementation checks so as to maximise the
     usefulness of those carried out. The UK and the Commission will immediately
     exchange the results of checks carried out.

9.52 Also in accordance with Article 38(3), at least once a year the Commission and
     the UK shall jointly examine and evaluate the results of checks carried out by the
     UK and the Commission, any comments made by other national or Community
     control bodies or institutions and the financial impact of irregularities noted
     (including steps taken or required to correct them and, where necessary,
     adjustments to the management and control systems).

9.53 In addition to the requirements of the General Regulation, the arrangements for
     control and financial corrections shall comply with Commission Regulation
     438/2001, establishing detailed arrangements for financial control by the Member
     States of operations co-financed by the Structural Funds.


Financial control by the Member State

9.54 In accordance with Article 38(1a) and 38(1c) of the General Regulation, the UK
     will establish financial management and control arrangements in such a way as to
     ensure that Community funds are used efficiently and correctly and that assistance
     is managed in accordance with all the applicable Community rules and in
     accordance with the principles of sound financial management. The detailed
     requirements set out in Commission Regulation 438/2001 shall apply throughout.

9.55 In accordance with Article 38(1d) and Article 38(1f) of the General Regulation,
     and in the first instance, in accordance with Commission Regulation 438/2001,
     the UK is responsible for certifying the accuracy of declarations of expenditure
     presented to the Commission.




146
9.56 In accordance with Article 38(1e) of the General Regulation, the UK is
     responsible in the first instance, for preventing, detecting and correcting
     irregularities and for notifying these to the Commission and keeping the
     Commission informed of the progress of administrative and legal proceedings. In
     accordance with Commission Regulation 438/2001, the controls shall establish
     whether any problems encountered are of a systematic character. The
     arrangements for handling irregularities and financial corrections are given at
     paragraph 9.61 to 9.70.

9.57 In accordance with Article 38(6) of the General Regulation, the UK shall keep
     available for the Commission all supporting documents regarding expenditure and
     checks on the assistance for a period of three years following the payment by the
     Commission of the final balance. This period may be interrupted in the case of
     legal proceedings or at the duly motivated request of the Commission. The UK
     shall keep a clear audit trail in compliance with Commission Regulation 438/2001
     and annex.


Financial control by the Commission

9.58 In accordance with Article 38(2) of the General Regulation, the Commission may
     carry out on the spot checks, including sample checks, on the operations financed
     by the Structural Funds and on management control systems with a minimum of
     one day’s notice. The Commission will give notice to the UK with a view to
     obtaining all the assistance necessary and UK officials may take part in such
     checks.

9.59 Also in accordance with Article 38(2), the Commission may require the UK to
     carry out an on the spot check to verify the correctness of one or more transactions
     and Commission officials may take part in such checks.

9.60 in addition, under Regulation 438/2001, there is an annual review of financial
     control arrangements at the level of the United Kingdom.


Irregularities and financial corrections


Role of the Member State

9.61 In accordance with Article 39(1) of the General Regulation, the UK has in the first
     instance, responsibility for investigating irregularities, acting upon evidence of
     any major change affecting the nature or conditions for the implementation or
     supervision of assistance and for making the financial corrections required.

9.62 Financial corrections shall be made in connection with the individual or
     systematic irregularity and shall consist of the cancelling of all or part of the




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      Community contribution. Community Funds released in this way may be re-used
      by the UK for the assistance concerned.

9.63 In accordance with article 39(4) of the General Regulation, any sum found to have
     been received unduly and to be recovered shall be repaid to the Commission
     together with the interest.


Role of the Commission

9.64 In accordance with Article 38(4) of the General Regulation, the Commission may
     make observations following examinations and evaluations, particularly regarding
     the financial impact of any irregularities detected. These observations shall be
     addressed to the UK and the Managing Authority and shall be accompanied,
     where necessary, by requests for corrective measures to remedy the management
     shortcomings found and correct those irregularities which have not already been
     corrected. The UK shall have the opportunity to comment on these observations.
     Where the Commission adopts conclusions, the UK will take the necessary steps
     within the deadline set by the Commission and will inform the Commission of its
     actions.

9.65 In accordance with Article 38(5) of the General Regulation, the Commission may
     suspend all or part of an interim payment linked to a serious and uncorrected
     irregularity. The Commission shall inform the UK of the action taken and the
     reasons for it.

9.66 If, in accordance with Article 39(2) of the General Regulation, after completing
     the necessary verifications, the Commission finds that the UK has not complied
     with its obligations, or finds that all or part of the operation does not justify either
     part or whole of the contribution from the EAGGF Guidance Section, or finds that
     there are serious failings in the management or control systems which could lead
     to systematic irregularities, then again, the Commission may suspend the interim
     payment in question and, stating its reasons, request that the UK submit its
     comments and, where appropriate, carry out any corrections within a specified
     time period.

9.67 Also in accordance with Article 39(2), if the UK objects to the Commission’s
     observations it shall be invited to a hearing by the Commission, in which both
     sides in co-operation based on the partnership make efforts to reach an agreement.

9.68 In accordance with Articles 38(5) and 39(3) of the General Regulation, if five
     months after the Commission requested corrective measures to remedy a financial
     irregularity the reasons for the suspension remain or the UK has not notified the
     Commission of the measures taken to correct the serious irregularity, or if at the
     end of the set period no agreement has been reached and the UK has not taken
     account of the comments made, the Commission may, within three months, decide
     to:
      (a)   reduce the payment on account referred to in paragraph 9.35;



148
      (b)   make the financial corrections required by cancelling all or part of the
            contribution from the EAGGF Guidance Section to the Programme.

9.69 Corrections of this type will have regard to proportionality, the type of irregularity
     or change and the extent of the financial implications.

9.70 In the absence of a decision to do either (a) or (b), the suspension of interim
     payments shall cease.


MONITORING

9.71 Monitoring will be carried out by the Managing Authority, assisted by the
     LEADER+ Monitoring Committee. This monitoring will ensure the quality and
     effectiveness of implementation through assessment of progress towards
     achievement of the financial, physical and impact indicators of the Programme. It
     will involve the organisation and co-ordination of the data relating to the financial,
     physical and impact indicators and those concerning qualitative aspects of
     implementation.


Monitoring Committee

9.72 In accordance with Article 35 of the General Regulation, the Programme will be
     supervised by a Monitoring Committee, which will be set up no more than three
     months after the Programme has been approved.

9.73 The Monitoring Committee will meet, as a general rule, at least twice every year,
     or more often if necessary.

9.74 The Committee will be chaired by the Head of Rural Development Policy with the
     Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Permanent Members will
     include representatives of: the Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development; the Special EU Programme Body; local authorities; the
     agriculture sector; the environment sector; the Equality Commission; and
     members of the business, trade unions, community and voluntary sectors with an
     interest in rural development. The participation of these different sectors shall be
     balanced. Particular effort will also be made to promote the balanced
     participation of women and men. A representative of the European Commission
     shall participate in the work of the Monitoring Committee in an advisory capacity.

9.75 Non-Permanent Members from the Member State or other relevant organisations
     may be invited by the Chairperson to attend Monitoring Committee meetings in
     response to specific agenda items.

9.76 The Monitoring Committee shall be assisted by a permanent secretariat, provided
     by Rural Development Division of the Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development, which will be responsible for the preparation of documentation



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      relating to monitoring, reports, agendas and summary records of meetings.
      Documentation required for the work of the Monitoring Committee shall normally
      be available 3 weeks before the date of the meeting.

9.77 The Monitoring Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure, including
     appropriate organisational arrangements, and agree them with the Managing
     Authority.

9.78 At its first meeting, the Monitoring Committee shall approve detailed provision
     for the proper and efficient discharge of the duties assigned to it, including the
     frequency of its meetings. These provisions shall include particularly the
     arrangements to review progress towards achieving the specific objectives of the
     Programme.

9.79 The Monitoring Committee shall satisfy itself as to the effectiveness and the
     quality of the implementation of the Programme. To this end, it shall

          confirm or adjust the Programme Complement (see Chapter 10), including
           the physical and financial indicators to be used to monitor the assistance. Its
           approval must be obtained before any further adjustments are made and
           implemented by the Managing Authority;

          periodically review progress made towards achieving the specific objectives
           of the Programme;

          examine the results of implementation, particularly the achievement of
           targets set and the outcome of the mid-term evaluation referred to in Chapter
           11;

          consider and approve annual and final implementation reports of the
           LEADER+ Programme before they are sent to the Commission;

          consider and approve any proposals to amend the contents of the approved
           Programme; and

          propose to the Managing Authority any adjustments or review of the
           Programme or Programme Complement in order to help attain the
           Programme objectives, or to improve the management of the Programme,
           including financial management.


Working Groups

9.80 In order to be appropriately informed on specific issues, the Monitoring
     Committee may be assisted by a number of working groups, which will report
     directly to the Monitoring Committee, having first considered the existence of
     CSF Monitoring Committee Working Groups.




150
9.81 The membership and remit of these groups will be proposed by the Monitoring
     Committee. Working groups may operate on a time limited or long term basis.


Monitoring and Evaluation

9.82 Within the framework of partnership, the Commission and the Member State will
     co-operate where appropriate on the structures, methods and procedures to be
     used in order to make monitoring systems and appraisal and assessment work
     more effective.

9.83 In order to gauge the effectiveness of the assistance, LEADER+ will be the
     subject of ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post evaluation. The provisions for
     evaluation are detailed in Chapter 11.

9.84 It will be the responsibility of the Monitoring Committee to commission the
     relevant evaluations. The Northern Ireland Community Support Framework
     Monitoring Committee will review the results of the evaluations.


Implementation Reports

Annual report

9.85 In accordance with Article 37 of the General Regulation, the Managing Authority
     will submit an annual implementation report to the Commission within six months
     of the end of each full calendar year of implementation. The first report will be
     due by 30 June 2002.

9.86 The report must be examined and approved by the Monitoring Committee before
     it is sent to the Commission.

9.87 Once the Commission has received the report, it shall indicate within a period of
     two months if the report is considered unsatisfactory, giving its reasons;
     otherwise, the report shall be deemed to be accepted.

9.88 The annual report shall include the following information:

     (a)   Any change in general conditions which is of relevance to the
           implementation of the programme, in particular the main socio-economic
           trends and changes in national, regional or sectoral policies, and, where
           applicable, their implications for the consistency of assistance from the
           Programme and that from other financial instruments;

     (b)   The progress in implementation of the Programme in relation to its specific
           targets, with a quantification, wherever and whenever they lend themselves
           to quantification, of the physical indicators and indicators of results and of
           impact referred to in Article 36 of the General Regulation;



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      (c)   The financial implementation of the programme summarising for each
            Action the total expenditure actually paid out by the paying authority and a
            record of the total payments received from the Commission and quantifying
            the financial indicators referred to in Article 36(2)c of the General
            Regulation;

      (d)   The steps taken by the Managing Authority and the Monitoring Committee
            to ensure the quality and effectiveness of implementation, in particular:
                monitoring, financial control and evaluation measures, including data
                 collection arrangements;
                a summary of any significant problems encountered in managing the
                 programme and any measures taken, including action on
                 recommendations for adjustments made following the review between
                 the Commission and the Member State or requests for corrective
                 measures;
                the use made of Technical Assistance; and
                the measures taken to ensure publicity for the programme; and

      (e)   The steps taken to ensure compatibility with Community policies and to
            ensure co-ordination of all the Community Structural Assistance.


Final report

9.89 A final report will be submitted to the Commission at the latest six months after
     the final date of eligibility of expenditure.

9.90 The same content and procedure (submission to the Commission by the Managing
     Authority after examination and approval by the Monitoring Committee) for
     annual reports apply to the final report.

9.91 In the case of a final report, the Commission will indicate if the report is
     considered acceptable within a period of five months from receipt of the report.


Reporting

9.92 The standardised financial tables presented in the LEADER+ Programme are the
     core of the information to be delivered to the Commission.

9.93 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will forward reports to the
     Commission using electronic means. The reports will take the form of structured
     files according to detailed specifications provided by the Commission. The plan
     drawn up by the Managing Authority will include the time-scale for the software




152
       development and the target dates for the operational data exchange (including the
       testing phases).

9.94 The frequency for the delivery of the financial reports shall be 2 times per year.
     For practical purposes, payment requests should be grouped as far as possible 3
     times per year with the last request being submitted no later than 31 October each
     year.


Annual implementation review

9.95 In accordance with Article 34(2) of the General Regulation, every year, when the
     annual implementation report is submitted, the Commission and the Managing
     Authority shall review the main outcomes of the previous year, in accordance with
     the arrangements agreed between the Commission and the Managing Authority
     within six months of the approval of the Programme:

9.96 After this review, the Commission may make comments to the Managing
     Authority. The UK shall inform the Commission of the action taken on these
     comments. Where in duly substantiated cases the Commission considers that the
     measures taken are inadequate, it may make recommendations to the Managing
     Authority for adjustments aimed at improving the effectiveness of the monitoring
     or management arrangements for the programme, together with the reasons for
     any such recommendations. If it receives any such recommendations, the
     Managing Authority shall subsequently demonstrate the steps taken to improve
     the monitoring or management arrangements or it shall explain why such steps
     have not been taken.

9.97 In accordance with Article 32(3) of the General Regulation, action upon the
     Commission recommendations within the specified time period (or the
     communications by the managing Authority of the reasons why no measures have
     been taken), where those recommendations are intended to remedy serious
     shortcomings in the monitoring or management system which undermine proper
     financial management of the programme, is one of the conditions subject to which
     interim payments shall be made by the Commission.

Electronic Data Exchange

9.98    The managing authority will set up and operate a computerised system to gather
        reliable data required for the management, monitoring and evaluation of the
        Community assistance. The guidelines and recommendations provided by the
        Commission are being used to specify the new system to ensure compatibility
        with the Electronic Data Exchange requirements. Information will be collected
        and codified at project level.

9.99    The system will be designed to support programming, financial and physical
        monitoring and the making and monitoring of payments. It will be based on the
        client/server application giving Government Departments and other relevant



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       organisations access to a central database. All required financial and physical
       progress information, appropriately codified, will be relayed electronically to the
       Commission by the Managing and Paying Authorities, as appropriate. The
       frequency of electronic transmission will conform to the management
       requirements as agreed between the Commission and the Managing Authority.

9.100 The system is expected to be operational by December 2001. However, interim
      arrangements as agreed between the UK authorities and the Commission will be
      implemented in the interval.

9.101 Financial information will be collected at project level and aggregated to the
      level of the LEADER+ Programme.


Technical Assistance

9.102 Commission Regulation 1685/3000 lays down detailed rules for the
      implementation of the General Regulation as regards eligibility of expenditure of
      operations co-financed by the Structural Funds.

9.103 According to Rule 11 on "Costs incurred in managing and implementing the
      Structural Funds", Technical Assistance can be used under point 2 of this Rule to
      co-finance expenditure incurred for management, implementation and control
      expenditure under certain conditions. The implementation of this point has to be
      agreed between the Commission and the Government and is laid down in the
      Chapter on Technical Assistance. For the purposes of monitoring, the costs made
      available under point 2 are the subject of a specific measure within Technical
      Assistance.

9.104 Priority 4 of the LEADER+ Programme will provide for Technical Assistance to
      cover costs of management and monitoring, control, information and publicity as
      well as mid-term evaluation of the Programme. Technical Assistance can also
      be used to co-finance other actions, for example studies, seminars, information
      and evaluation.




154
                                   CHAPTER 10

                     ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS


THE PROGRAMME COMPLEMENT


10.1 Within three months of the Commission decision approving this LEADER+
     Programme, the Managing Authority will send the Programme Complement to the
     Commission for information.

10.2 As defined in Article 9(m) of the General Regulation, the Programme
     Complement is the document implementing the Programme strategy and priorities
     and containing detailed elements at measure level. It is drawn up by the Managing
     Authority and agreed with the Monitoring Committee.

10.3 The Programme Complement will contain the information requested by Article
     18.3 of the General Regulation. These are the following:
          Measures implementing the corresponding priorities;
          Ex-ante evaluation, in accordance with Art 41.3 of the General Regulation,
           of quantified measures where they lend themselves to quantification in order
           to demonstrate consistency with the aims of the corresponding priorities,
           quantifying their specific targets where the priorities lend themselves thereto
           and subsequently verifying the relevance of the selection criteria, which
           have to be approved within six months of the Commission’s decision;
          Relevant monitoring indicators in accordance with Article 36 of the General
           Regulation;
          Definition of the types of final beneficiary of measures;
          The financing plan at measure level. The financing plan will be
           accompanied by a description of the arrangements for providing the co-
           financing for measures taking account of the UK institutional, legal and
           financial systems;
          Measures intended to publicise the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme
           and in particular the communication plan required by Commission
           Regulation (EC) No. 1159/2000 on information and publicity;
          Description of arrangements agreed between the Commission and the UK
           for the computerised exchange, where possible, of the data required to fulfil
           the management, monitoring and evaluation requirements of the regulation.




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10.4   The presentation to the Commission of the Programme Complement containing
       the required information is one of the conditions subject to which interim
       payments will be made by the Commission.


PROCEDURES FOR THE AMENDMENT OF THE PROGRAMME


Amendments to the Programme

10.5   All proposals for an amendment to the Programme must first be agreed with the
       Monitoring Committee.

10.6   Requests for the approval of amendments to the Programme must be made to the
       Commission following the procedures applied for its adoption. These include
       consultation of the Committees referred to in Articles 48, 49, 50 and 51 of the
       General Regulation.

10.7   However, any amendments to the Programme that does not alter the total
       Community contribution can be approved by the Commission in agreement with
       the managing authority if the modification of the total cost or Community
       financing to any priority is no more than 25% of the total Community
       Contribution to the Programme throughout the programme period.

10.8   Any modification is subject to the availability of funds and must remain
       compatible with the Commission’s budgetary rules. It may entail a change in
       the rate of assistance.

10.9   Whenever the amounts of finance are altered, the notification shall be
       accompanied by the revised financing plan of the Programme.

10.10 The Monitoring Committee may in any event propose to the Managing
      Authority any adjustment or review of the Programme likely to make possible
      the attainment of the objective of the Programme, or to improve the management
      of Programme, including financial management.

10.11 Any financial adjustment shall be accompanied by the revised financing plan.

10.12 Any amendment of the Programme shall be decided by the Commission, in
      agreement with the Managing Authority within four months of delivery of the
      Monitoring Committee’s approval.


Amendments to the programme complement

10.13 According to Article 34.3 of the General Regulation, the Managing Authority
      may, at the request of the Monitoring Committee or on its own initiative, adjust



156
      the Programme Complement, without changing the total amount of the
      contribution from the EAGGF Guidance Section granted to the priority
      concerned nor its specific targets.

10.14 After approval of this adjustment by the Monitoring Committee, the Managing
      Authority shall inform the Commission of the adjustment within one month.




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158
                                   CHAPTER 11

                      PROVISIONS FOR EVALUATION


GENERAL PROVISIONS


11.1 In order to gauge its effectiveness, the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme
     will be subject to ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post evaluation. The Managing
     Authority will set up an evaluation system according to the guidelines that will be
     provided by the Commission. The evaluation system shall be submitted for
     discussion to the Commission, and then adopted by the Monitoring Committee.


Ex-ante evaluation

11.2 The ex-ante evaluation of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme has been
     carried out by DTZ Pieda Consulting. The evaluation is included as paragraphs
     3.1 to 3.57 of Chapter 3.

Mid-term evaluation

11.3 In accordance with Article 42 of the General Regulation, the mid-term evaluation
     will be carried out under responsibility of the Managing Authority in co-operation
     with the Commission and the UK government.

11.4 This mid-term evaluation will examine, in the light of the ex-ante evaluation, the
     initial results of the programme.

11.5 It will be carried out by an independent assessor, be submitted to the Programme
     Monitoring Committee and sent to the Commission no later than 31 December
     2003, with a view to re-examining the Programme and if necessary adapt it at the
     initiative of the UK or the Commission. The Commission will examine the
     relevance and quality of the evaluation on the basis of criteria established
     beforehand by the Commission and the UK in partnership, with a view to review
     the assistance.

11.6 Independent assessors will be required to observe confidentiality when dealing
     with the Monitoring Committee’s data to which they have access.


Ex-post evaluation

11.7 In accordance with Article 43 of the General Regulation, the ex-post evaluation
     will be the responsibility of the European Commission, in collaboration with the



                                                                                      159
      UK and the Managing Authority. It will cover the utilisation of resources and the
      effectiveness and efficiency of the Programme and its impact and it will draw
      conclusions regarding policy on economic and social cohesion. It will cover the
      factors contributing to the success or failure of implementation and the
      achievements and results, including their sustainability.

11.8 It will be carried out by independent assessors and be completed not later than
     three years after the end of the programming period.


FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATION


11.9 The European Commission’s methodological working paper 3 – “Indicators for
     Monitoring and Evaluation: An indicative methodology” – provides a framework
     for the evaluation of Structural Funds programmes and the identification of
     indicators. That framework shows how, within the programming cycle, results
     and impacts are related to the objectives derived from the needs identified in the
     region. The cycle is represented in Figure 18.


Figure 18: The framework for evaluation


                                       NEEDS




         GLOBAL OBJECTIVES                                     IMPACTS




        SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES                                    RESULTS




      OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES                                   OUTPUTS




                                       INPUTS




160
11.10 In the context of the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme:
           the overall aim of the Programme relates to the ‘global objectives’;
           the aims and objectives of the Actions relate to the ‘specific objectives’;
            and
           the aims and objectives of the Local Action Groups relate to the ‘operational
            objectives’.

11.11 The relationship between the aims and objectives of LEADER+ and the aims
      and objectives of the wider Rural Development Strategy for 2000-2006 is
      described in more detail in Chapter 4.


INDICATORS FOR EVALUATION


11.12 The following output, result and impact indicators have been identified for the
      Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme.


11.13 Output Indicators

       1.    Number of new small businesses created in the target areas with assistance
             from LEADER+, broken down to show:
                 Male owners;
                 Female owners;
                 Young owners (under 30);
                 Owners who are farmers or members of farm families; and
                 Owners who were long-term unemployed before starting the project.
             The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
             information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

       2.    Number of existing very small businesses in rural areas expanding with
             assistance from LEADER+, broken down to show:
                 Male owners;
                 Female owners;
                 Young owners (under 30);
                 Owners who are farmers or members of farm families; and
                 Owners who were long-term unemployed before starting the project.
             The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
             information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.



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      3.   Amount of investment in very small businesses in rural areas stimulated by
           LEADER+.
              Male owners;
              Female owners;
              Young Owners (under 30);
              Owners who are farmers or members of farm families; and
              Owners who were long-term unemployed before starting the project.
           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      4.   The number of Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland involved in co-
           operation activities with other rural groups in:
              Northern Ireland;
              Other parts of the United Kingdom;
              The Republic of Ireland;
              Other regions of the European Union; and
              Rural areas outside the European Union.
           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      5.   The number of co-operation projects supported by LEADER+ involving
           Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland and rural groups in:
              Northern Ireland;
              Other parts of the United Kingdom;
              The Republic of Ireland;
              Other regions of the European Union; and
              Rural areas outside the European Union.
           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      6.   The number of rural groups from Northern Ireland (both LEADER+ Local
           Action Groups and non-LEADER+ groups) participating in the network at:
              Northern Ireland level;
              United Kingdom level;
              Island of Ireland level; and
              European level.




162
            The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
            information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

       7.   The number of LEADER+ Networking seminars, work-shops and
            conferences run and participated in by Local Action Groups from Northern
            Ireland. The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by
            reference to information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted
            projects.

11.14 Rural Development Division of the Department of Agriculture and Rural
      Development will be responsible for monitoring these outputs.

11.15 The outputs will be monitored twice yearly to cover the periods:
       (a) 1 January to 30 June; and
       (b) 1 July to 31 December.

11.16 The outputs will be monitored in such a way as to show:
       (a) the number for the period being monitored; and
       (b) the cumulative total from 1 January 2000 to the end of the period being
           monitored.


11.17 Result Indicators

       1.   Number of permanent jobs (Full-Time Equivalents) created in assisted
            projects, broken down to show the numbers of:
                Men;
                Women;
                Young people (under 30);
                Farmers or members of farm families; and
                Those who were long-term unemployed before taking up the job.
            The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
            information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

       2.   Number of jobs (Full-Time Equivalents) safeguarded or maintained in
            assisted projects, broken down to show the numbers of:
                Men;
                Women;
                Young people (under 30);
                Farmers or members of farm families; and
                Those who were long-term unemployed before taking up the job.



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           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      3.   Person-years of temporary employment created in assisted projects, broken
           down to show the numbers of:
              Men;
              Women;
              Young people (under 30);
              Farmers or members of farm families; and
              Those who were long-term unemployed before taking up the job.
           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      4.   Number of new businesses established in rural areas with assistance from
           LEADER+ that are still in existence after 2 years. Data to be broken down
           to show:
              Male owners;
              Female owners;
              Young people (under 30);
              Owners who are farmers or members of farm families; and
              Owners who were long-term unemployed before starting the project.
           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      5.   The total turnover of the new businesses created in rural areas with
           assistance from LEADER+ after 2 years, broken down to show:
              Male owners;
              Female owners;
              Young owners (under 30);
              Owners who are farmers or members of farm families; and
              Owners who were long-term unemployed before starting the project.
           The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
           information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

      6.   The additional turnover after 2 years [timescale may not be necessary] in
           existing businesses in rural areas that have been expanded or upgraded
           with assistance from LEADER+, broken down to show:
              Male owners;




164
         Female owners;
         Young owners (under 30);
         Owners who are farmers or members of farm families; and
         Owners who were long-term unemployed before starting the project.
      The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
      information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

7.    Number of co-operation contacts still active following end of project (after
      1 year). The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by
      reference to information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted
      projects.

8.    Number of permanent jobs (Full-Time Equivalents) created, safeguarded
      or maintained in assisted co-operation projects, broken down to show the
      numbers of:
         Men;
         Women;
         Young people (under 30);
         Farmers or members of farm families; and
         Those who were long-term unemployed before taking up the job.
      The baseline is set at zero. The indicator will be measured by reference to
      information gathered from the regular monitoring of assisted projects.

9.    Perception among Local Action Groups that their participation in
      networking activity has been beneficial in establishing contacts, sharing
      information on successful approaches and increasing their understanding
      of effective partnership working. Broken down to show perceptions of
      networking at:
         Northern Ireland level;
         United Kingdom level;
         Island of Ireland level; and
         European level.
      No baseline will be set for this indicator. The indicator will be measured
      by an annual survey of Local Action Groups.

10.   The level of satisfaction among Local Action Groups of the quality and
      accessibility of information provided by the LEADER Network. No
      baseline will be set for this indicator. The indicator will be measured by
      an annual survey of Local Action Groups.




                                                                               165
       11.   The level of satisfaction among Local Action Groups of the quality and
             usefulness of networking activities (e.g., seminars, work-shops and
             conferences) in terms of the relevance of the subjects covered, the depth
             and breadth of coverage, the accessibility for users and quality of the
             analysis. No baseline will be set for this indicator. The indicator will be
             measured by an annual survey of Local Action Groups.


11.18 The information for results indicators 1 to 8 will be gathered twice a year for the
      periods January to June and July to December and include figures for the current
      period and the cumulative total. The information for results indicators 9, 10 and
      11 will be gathered annually.

11.19 In addition, all of the results of the measure will be analysed in:
       (a)   the mid-term evaluation of the Programme, to be undertaken in 2003 by an
             independent evaluator; and
       (b)   the final evaluation of the Programme, to be undertaken in 2007 by an
             independent evaluator.


11.20 Impact Indicators

       1.    Total turnover of small businesses in rural areas. The baseline will be set
             by reference to the results of the LEDU small business survey conducted
             in 1999. The indicator will be measured by reference to the results of
             subsequent surveys.

       2.    Total turnover of small businesses in rural areas as a percentage of the
             total economic value of all small businesses in Northern Ireland. The
             baseline will be set by reference to the results of the LEDU small business
             survey conducted in 1999. The indicator will be measured by reference to
             the results of subsequent surveys.

       3.    Total employment in small businesses in rural areas. The baseline will be
             set by reference to the results of the LEDU small business survey
             conducted in 1999. The indicator will be measured by reference to the
             results of subsequent surveys.

       4.    Total employment in small businesses in rural areas as a percentage of
             total employment in small businesses in Northern Ireland. The baseline
             will be set by reference to the results of the LEDU small business survey
             conducted in 1999. The indicator will be measured by reference to the
             results of subsequent surveys.

       5.    Total employment in small businesses in rural areas as a percentage of
             total employment in rural areas. The baseline will be set by reference to
             the results of the LEDU small business survey conducted in 1999. The




166
             indicator will be measured by reference to the results of subsequent
             surveys.

       6.    The number of new products or processes arising from assisted projects.
             The baseline will be set at zero. The indicator will be measured by
             reference to information supplied by Local Action Groups.


       7.    The proportion of projects or programmes supported by Local Action
             Groups that are new by comparison to previous activities in the their areas.
             No baseline will be set for this indicator. The indicator will be measured
             by reference to information supplied by the Local Action Groups.

       8.    The number of projects or programmes supported by Local Action Groups
             that have their origins in successful models applied in other Local Action
             Group areas:
             (a)   in other parts of Northern Ireland;
             (b)   in other parts of the United Kingdom;
             (c)   in other parts of Ireland; and
             (d)   in other parts of the European Union.
             The baseline will be set at zero. The indicator will be measured by
             reference to information supplied by the Local Action Groups.

       9.    Number of successful projects or programmes developed or supported by
             Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland that are replicated:
             (a)   in other areas of Northern Ireland;
             (b)   in other parts of the United Kingdom;
             (c)   in other parts of Ireland; and
             (d)   in other parts of the European Union.
             The baseline will be set at zero. The indicator will be measured by
             reference to information supplied by the Local Action Groups.

11.21 The impacts of the measure will be analysed in:
       (a)   the mid-term evaluation of the measure, to be undertaken in 2003 by an
             independent evaluator; and
       (b)   the final evaluation of the measure, to be undertaken in 2007 by an
             independent evaluator.

11.22 It is likely that clear evidence of the impacts will not begin to become apparent
      until 2004 or later. Therefore, the final evaluation will be the more important of
      the two in assessing the impacts.




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11.23 The impact indicators are subject to external factors which may have the effect
      of either amplifying or hindering the impact of the measure. In the absence of a
      control sample to provide a counterfactual situation, it may be necessary for the
      mid-term and final evaluations to look at a number of case studies to allow the
      net effect/impact of the measure to be established.




168
                                    CHAPTER 12

                   CONSULTATION ARRANGEMENTS

CONSULTATION PROCESS

12.1 The European Commission’s guidelines on LEADER+ state that Member States
     must consult with “representative partners” before they begin to formulate their
     LEADER+ Programme.

12.2 Although a final draft version of the LEADER+ guidelines had been available
     since December 1999, the guidelines were not published by the European
     Commission until 18 May 2000. Departmental officials therefore took the
     decision to begin the consultation exercise prior to the publication of guidelines.

12.3 A consultation document was issued by the Department on 8 March 2000.
     Although the paper focused specifically on LEADER+, it built on the
     consultations undertaken by the Department of Agriculture in January and April
     1999 on the Rural Development Programme in Northern Ireland. Those
     consultations concluded that economic outputs (particularly job creation) should
     be the priority target for LEADER.

12.4 A full list of those consulted and the respondents is attached at Annex 1.

12.5 The closing date for comments was 21 April 2000 although the Department
     continued to accept late submissions. A total of 45 submissions were received. A
     full summary and analysis of the comments received is attached at Annex 2.

12.6 The Minister wrote to all consultees on 28 June 2000 summarising some of the
     main points arising from the consultation and outlining the Department’s
     preliminary response to those issues.

12.7 To allow the Department to consider how the aims, objectives and criteria of
     LEADER+ in Northern Ireland should be drafted to avoid excluding good
     proposals brought forward by local groups, the Minister invited prospective Local
     Action Groups to submit summaries of their proposals for strategies in their areas.
     To this end, the Minister wrote to Local Action Groups and District Councils on
     28 June 2000. She also announced the call for “mini business plans” on the same
     day at the Northern Ireland LEADER Network AGM in Dungannon.

12.8 The closing date for the submission of proposals to the Department was 18
     August 2000. 16 replies were received. An analysis of the proposals is attached
     at Annex 3.




                                                                                      169
12.9   Rural Development Division staff also attended Consultation Seminars and met
       with a number of LEADER II Local Action Groups during May, June and July
       2000 as part of the ongoing consultation process.

12.10 The final draft of the LEADER+ Programme was considered by the Northern
      Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in 6
      October 2000. The Committee confirmed that it was generally content with the
      Programme. However, it asked that all necessary steps are taken to ensure that
      the administration of the Programme offered no avoidable opportunities for
      over-use of consultants. The Committee also asked that consideration be given
      to assisting groups, in particular the farming community, to bring forward their
      proposals, both at the initial stage as Local Action Groups and later as new
      applicants to those groups.

12.11 The final draft of the Programme was also issued to all consultees for comment
      on 2 October 2000. Consultees were asked to submit their comments by 13
      October 2000.

12.12 26 responses were received to this final stage of the consultation process. Most
      of the responses sought clarification and further details on certain aspects of the
      Programme or suggested minor changes to the text. Where appropriate, these
      comments have been addressed in the final version of the Programme. In
      particular, additional information on the strategic policy context in Northern
      Ireland has been added to Chapter 4 and the system for allocating funding to
      Local Action Groups has been explained more fully in Chapter 7. Some of the
      comments related to the details of the implementation and management of the
      Programme ands these will be addressed in the Programme Complement.

12.13 The final version of the Programme was considered by the Executive Committee
      on 2 November 2000 and by the North South Ministerial Council on 15
      November 2000.




170
                                   CHAPTER 13

    COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER COMMUNITY POLICIES


Introduction

13.1 Under Article 12 of the General Regulation, operations financed by the Structural
     Funds must be in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty, with the
     instruments adopted under it and with Community policies and actions, including
     the rules on the award of public contracts, on environmental protection and
     improvements and on the elimination of inequalities and the promotion of equality
     between men and women.

13.2 This compliance is verified in the appraisal of the operations as well as during
     their implementation through monitoring.


Award of contracts

13.3 Implementation of measures part-financed by the Structural Funds must comply
     with Community requirements as set out in as set out in the EC Treaty (Articles
     12, 28, 43 and 49) and in the Public Procurement Directives, namely:
          Directive 92/50 (services);
          Directive 93/36 (public supplies);
          Directive 93/37 (public works, as modified by Directive 97/52
           implementing the WTO agreement on public procurement within EC law);
           and
          Directive 93/38 (public procurement contracts in the telecommunications,
           water, energy and transport sector as modified by Directive 98/4,
           implementing the WTO public procurement agreement).

13.4 In accordance with Article 34.1(g) of the General Regulation, notices sent for
     publications in the Official Journal of the European Communities will specify
     those projects in respect of which a contribution from the Structural Funds has
     been applied for or granted.


Protection of the environment

13.5 In order to respect the Directives in relation to Natura 2000, the Commission has
     issued the following guidelines:




                                                                                        171
      In the interests of proper programming of structural spending and at a later stage,
      proper implementation of programmes, Member States must have fulfilled their
      obligations under the Community policies and schemes for protecting and
      improving the environment, in particular the “Natura 2000” network.

      Where this is not the case, the Commission considers that Member States should
      submit their list of sites to be protected under Natura 2000, together with the
      related scientific information, as soon as possible.

      The programming documents for these countries (CSFs, SPDs and OPs) must
      contain clear and irrevocable commitments to guarantee consistency of their
      programmes with the protection of sites as provided for under Natura 2000.

      An explicit part of such a commitment should be to send in proposed lists under
      the “Habitats” Directive (Article 4(1)) together with the related scientific
      information. The UK will present these lists in October 2000. It should be noted
      that this commitment relates solely to presentation by the Member State of lists at
      the right geographical level.

      In line with their commitments and pending presentation of their lists, the Member
      States concerned must also give a formal guarantee that they will not allow sites
      to be protected under Natura 2000 to deteriorate during operations part-financed
      by the Structural Funds. They should also commit themselves to providing the
      Commission, in their programming documents or at least when presenting their
      programming complement for each operational programme, with information
      about the steps they have taken to prevent the deterioration of sites to be protected
      under Natura 2000.

      The Commission will be formally notifying Member States concerned when it is
      about to take immediate and appropriate action in the event of irregularities
      concerning the conditions of implementation, in accordance with the General
      Regulation on the Structural Funds (Regulation (EC) No 1260/99) or the
      Regulation on the Cohesion Fund (Regulation (EC) No 1164/94), ie in this case
      specifically a failure to comply with the commitment to present lists of sites to be
      protected.

13.6 Such appropriate action will include recourse by the Commission to Article 39(2)
     of the General Regulation or Article D.2 in Annex II to the Cohesion Fund
     Regulation (as amended by Regulation (EC) No 1265/1999) regarding the
     suspension of payments, except where the individual circumstances warrant
     otherwise and consistent with the principle of proportionality.

13.7 As regards actual operations, it is important to note that the Commission will
     apply Article 12 of the General Regulation or Article 8(1) of the Cohesion Fund
     Regulation on the compatibility of operations with the provisions of the EC Treaty
     and with Community schemes and the policies.




172
13.8   Infringements of Community legislation will be acted upon under Article 226 of
       the EC Treaty. The fact that a Member State has committed itself to submitting a
       list within a stated deadline will have no effect on current infringement
       proceedings.

13.9   Finally, the Commission may introduce individual monitoring of measures taken
       or envisaged by Member States which are likely to affect sites to be protected
       under Natura 2000. The Commission may in particular, in co-operation with the
       Member State concerned, have recourse to Article 38(2) of the General
       Regulation or Article 12 of the Cohesion Fund Regulation (as amended by
       Regulation (EC) No 1264/1999) concerning controls on the ground. At
       meetings of the Monitoring Committee responsible for an assistance package,
       the Commission representative will pay close attention to any measure or project
       likely to affect sites to be protected under Natura 2000 and will make any
       necessary recommendations to the management authority concerned. The
       Commission will also consider carefully all complaints that may be notified to it.

13.10 Following consultation with owners and other interested parties, a total of 41
      sites in Northern Ireland have now been submitted to the European Commission
      (EC) for consideration as candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The
      Northern Ireland proposals include 20 additional SACs as well as additional
      qualifying features on 14 of the 21 original sites. Consultation on 2 further sites
      will be completed in time for inclusion on the next United Kingdom tranche of
      sites due to be forwarded to the EC in June 2001.


Polluter Pays Principle

13.11 The application of the Polluter Pays Principle will have regard to the
      Commission Technical Paper 1 on the same subject.


Environmental Impact Assessment

13.12 All projects enjoying co-financing from the Structural Funds will be in
      compliance with Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by 97/11/EEC.


Equal Opportunities

13.13 Operations part-financed by the Structural Funds must comply with, and where
      appropriate contribute to, Community policy and legislation on equal
      opportunities for men and women. In particular, consideration should be given
      to opportunities concerning investments and training which facilitate the return
      to the labour market of people with children.

13.14 The new Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty of Amsterdam formalise the Community
      commitment to gender mainstreaming, by establishing equality between women



                                                                                      173
       and men as a specific task of the Community as well as a horizontal objective
       affecting all Community tasks. Likewise in the reform of the Structural funds,
       equal opportunities for women and men plays an integral part, through the dual
       strategies of mainstreaming and developing specific actions targeted at women.
       The policy is also fundamentally enshrined in the European Employment
       Strategy- here the fourth pillar concentrates on strengthening equal opportunities
       between women and men, in particular recognising the significance of gender
       equality to the economy.

13.15 Gender mainstreaming in the LEADER+ Programme will be in line with the
      legislation in force in Northern Ireland (Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act
      1998).

13.16 Operationally, equality will be mainstreamed at programme level by including
      equal opportunities among the project selection criteria for Local Action Groups.
      In addition, the appraisal of operations seeking support from LEADER+ that are
      not specifically oriented towards the improvement of equal opportunities should
      include an assessment as regards their impact of equal opportunities.

13.17 The Monitoring Committee will require to be regularly informed on equal
      opportunity issues across all aspects of the Programme. Equality of participation
      in the Monitoring Committee and selection panel shall be encouraged in
      accordance with the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the General
      Regulation.

13.18 The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will ensure that
      consistent data on gender equality and the mainstreaming of gender equal
      opportunities is gathered by producing disaggregated statistics by gender where
      possible. It will also ensure that evaluations measure the extent to which the
      principle of promoting equal opportunities has been taken into account in the
      implementation of this programme, with particular regard to the involvement of
      women in general measures and to the implementation, the relevance and the
      outcome of such measures.

13.19 The annual and final implementation reports referred to in Chapter 9 will contain
      a specific chapter describing the actions taken in the framework of the
      programme in order to ensure the implementation of equal opportunities
      objectives of the Programme, and to state to which extent the targets set out in
      the Programme have been met.


Common Agricultural Policy

13.20 The actions and measures co-financed by the Structural Funds and other State
      Aid provided must be compatible with the Common Agricultural Policy in all its
      elements. The Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme has been developed in
      such a way to ensure the consistency of the Programme with the measures




174
       applied under the CAP and, notably, the measures applied in the framework of
       the common market organisations.

CONFORMITY WITH STATE AIDS RULES


13.21 The implementation of LEADER + in Northern Ireland will be in accordance
      with the Community provisions on the granting of State Aids. Specifically, the
      Northern Ireland authorities undertake to ensure that the LEADER + measures
      will be implemented in accordance with the Community Guidelines for State
      Aids in the Agricultural Sector (OJ C28, 1.2.2000) or, Council Regulations
      1257/1999 on support for rural development, and 1260/1999 laying down
      general provisions on the Structural Funds.


Non-agricultural sector


13.22 Insofar as the present programme foresees state aid concerning activities other
      than the production, processing or marketing of agricultural products listed in
      Annex 1 of the Treaty, this aid will be exclusively granted as “de minimus” aid
      in line with the Commission Communication on de minimus aid (OJ C68 of
      6.3.1996), or awarded in conformity with the Commission regulation (EC) No
      68/2001 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to training aid
      of 12.1.2001 (OJ L30, 13.1.2001, p.20), or the commission regulation (EC) No
      69/2001 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to de minimus
      aid of 12 .1.2001 (OJ L10, 13.1.2001, p.30), or the Commission regulation (EC)
      No 70/2001 on the application of articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to state aid
      to small and medium-sized enterprises of 12.1.2001 (OJ L30, 13.1.2001, p.33).


Agricultural sector


13.23 For all measures in this programme, the Northern Ireland authorities will ensure
     that any support for products included in Annex 1 of the Treaty will be either
     given as existing aid in the sense of Article 1 (b) of Council Regulation No.
     659/1999; or complies with the Measure(s) approved within the Northern Ireland
     Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity or the PEACE 11 Programme. In
     all other cases, the measures will be notified to the Commission as new aid, for
     approval in accordance with Council Regulation No 659/1999. In this latter case,
     no support will be provided for the product concerned prior to commission
     approval under Council Regulation No 659/1999.




                                                                                    175
176
     ANNEX 1



LIST OF CONSULTEES




                     177
178
Members of the Legislative Assembly

All Members of Parliament

Members of the European Parliament

Party spokespersons on Agriculture and Rural Development

Government Departments and Public Bodies
Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
Department of Social Development
Department of Environment (Environment and Heritage Service)
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry
Department of Finance and Personnel
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Department of Regional Development
Department of Education
Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment
Department of Health and Public Safety
LEDU
Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Equality Commission
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Top Management Group
Dept of Environment, Transport and the Regions
Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, RoI
Welsh Rural Forum
Commission of European Communities
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food
Scottish Enterprise
Welsh European Programme Executive
Department of Trade and Industry

Local Action Groups
Armagh District LEADER II
Canal Corridor Partnership
Coleraine Local Action Group for Enterprise (COLLAGE)
Cookstown LEADER Group
Craigavon Rural Development
Fermanagh Local Action Group
Lower Bann LEADER
Magherafelt Area Partnership
North Antrim LEADER
Roe Valley LEADER Group
Rural Area Partnership In Derry (RAPID)
Rural Down Partnership
South Down and South Armagh Local Action Group
South Tyrone Area Partnership
West Tyrone Rural 2000




                                                                       179
Other Collective Bodies
Developing Rural Enterprise
Family Farm Development
Rural Development Services
Northern Ireland Horse Board Co-operative
PIMS Information Management Consortium
Rural Innovation Research Partnership
Rural Cottage Holidays
Supporting Economic Development in Rural Areas
Ulster Beekeepers Association

LEADER Organisations

UK LEADER Network
Northern Ireland Leader Network
LEADER European Observatory for Rural Development

District Councils
Antrim Borough Council
Ards Borough Council
Armagh City and District Council
Ballymena Borough Council
Ballymoney Borough Council
Banbridge Borough Council
Belfast City Council
Carrickfergus Borough Council
Castlereagh Borough Council
Coleraine Borough Council
Cookstown District Council
Craigavon Borough Council
Derry City Council
Down District Council
Dungannon District Council
Fermanagh District Council
Larne Borough Council
Limavady Borough Council
Lisburn Borough Council
Magherafelt District Council
Moyle District Council
Newry and Mourne Borough Council
Newtownabbey Borough Council
North Down Borough Council
Omagh District Council
Strabane District Council

District Partnerships
There is one District Partnership in each of the District Council areas.




180
Community Networks
Rural Community Network
North Antrim Community Network
Oakleaf Community Network
Regeneration of Mournes Area Limited (ROMAL)
Regeneration of South Armagh (ROSA)
Fermanagh Rural Community Network
Tyrone, Armagh, Down and Antrim (TADA)
East Down Network
Strabane Community Network
Omagh Forum for Rural Associations
Cookstown and Western Shores Network

Women’s Groups
Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA)
Mid-Ulster Women’s Network
Fermanagh Women’s Network
Women on Rural Development

Area Based Strategies
North Antrim Rural Action
Moyola Valley Development Partnership
North Sperrins Area Strategy
Loughshores Area Based Strategy
South Armagh Area Based Strategy
Mournes Heritage Trust
Erne East Area Based Strategy
Western Sperrins Area Based Strategy
Castlederg Area Based Strategy

Other key rural interests (6)
Rural Development Council
Ulster Farmers Union
Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association
International Fund for Ireland
National Trust
ACRE

Those who responded to previous consultations (7)
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Northern Ireland Environment Link
Birdwatch NI
Children’s Law Centre
Youth Action NI
Community Safety Centre
Prof. Pauline Murphy, UUJ




                                                      181
182
                            LIST OF RESPONDENTS


Antrim Borough Council
Ards Borough Council
Armagh District Council
Ballymoney borough Council
Banbridge District Council
Coleraine Borough Council
Down District Council
Fermanagh District Council
Lisburn Borough Council
Strabane District Council
Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
Agri-Food Development Service, DARD
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
Department of Finance and Personnel
Department of Health, Social services and Public Safety
Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment
Department for Regional Development
Armagh District LEADER II LAG
Canal Corridor Partnership
COLLAGE Ltd
Cookstown LEADER Ltd
Craigavon Rural Development
Fermanagh Local Action Group
Lower Bann LEADER Ltd
Magherafelt Area Partnership
North Antrim LEADER Ltd
Roe Valley LEADER Group Ltd
Rural Area Partnership in Derry
Rural Down Partnership
South Down and South Armagh Local Action Group
South Tyrone Area Partnership
Ulster Beekeepers’ LEADER II Ltd
Northern Ireland LEADER Network
Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association
Ulster Farmers’ Union
North Antrim Agricultural Association Ltd
South Armagh Area Based Strategy
North Antrim Community Network
TADA Rural Network
Rural Community Network
RSPB
Paul Moore
Women’s Resource and Development Agency
Rural Development Council




                                                                      183
184
        ANNEX 2



SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF

CONSULTATION RESPONSES




                          185
186
                               THE EU LEADER+ INITIATIVE

           ANALYSIS OF RESPONSES TO THE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT


Consultation question 1: Do you think that the analysis in Annex 4 accurately
summarises the strengths, weaknesses and potential of Northern Ireland’s rural
areas? If not, what do you think is missing from the analysis? Do you have any
information that would be helpful in improving it?

1.   33 respondents commented on this question. The comments have been organised to
match the main sections of the analysis in Annex 4 of the consultation document.


General

2.    Almost half of those who commented on this question stated that the felt that the data
in annex 4 is out of date and the figures need to be updated.


Definition of rural areas and disadvantaged rural areas

3.    Three respondents felt that the definition of the “rural” area needs to be more clearly
explained. One commented that there are a number of methods for classifying areas as
either rural or urban and they should be compared to ensure that the designation of an area
as urban or rural does not vary significantly depending on the methodology used. Another
suggested using Shaping Our Future’s definition, which classes all of Northern Ireland
outside Belfast and Londonderry as rural.

4.     A number of respondents questioned the validity of the Robson index as the method of
identifying disadvantaged rural areas. Among the criticisms were the fact that the index was
based on data from the 1991 census, so it does not provide an accurate reflection of
Northern Ireland in 2000, and the indicators had been designed to take account of urban
conditions, so they are inappropriate to rural conditions.

5.    The relevance of drawing out statistics for disadvantaged rural areas at all was
questioned by some respondents. They argued that because LEADER+ will apply to all of
the EU’s rural areas, the analysis should not present statistics for disadvantaged rural areas
and the description of ‘disadvantaged’ areas in paragraphs 4 to 7 gives the incorrect
impression that there are ‘advantaged’ rural areas’.


People

6.     There were a number of suggestions that more analysis was required on the situation
and needs of specific groups within the rural population such as women, young people,
those with disability, Travellers and ethnic minorities. In particular, one respondent argued
that the analysis underestimated the actual unemployment rate of women in rural areas and
cited the Equality Commission’s estimate that two-thirds of the ‘hidden labour reserve’ in
Northern Ireland are women.

7.   It was also suggested that a deeper analysis of the religious composition of the rural
population was required and that religious divisions and segregation needed to be
considered. One respondent suggested that the analysis underplayed the political situation.



                                                                                           187
8.    There was general agreement that the rural population does possess considerable
knowledge, skills, ideas and creativity, but some felt that not enough evidence had been
provided to support this point. One respondent suggested that a skills audit was required.


Agriculture

9.    Around half of the responses to this question argued that the analysis of agriculture
was out of date and did not adequately reflect the current difficulties of the industry and the
effects that this has had on rural communities. Additional information was requested on:
     Farm incomes
     How income levels relate to farm size and type of enterprise
     The level of debt burden
     Support available from statutory agencies
     Age structure of farmers
     Availability and cost of labour
     Land ownership patterns in Northern Ireland
     Cost of rented ground
     Qualifications or other training undertaken
     Overheads
     Health and Safety audits and statistics etc
     Type and quality of accommodation
     Patterns of co-operative activity

10. The analysis of employment in agriculture was challenged. Some respondents
highlighted that since 1996 there has been a fall in part-time employment on farms as well
as in full-time employment and that this suggests that not only are farmers moving from full-
time to part-time, but that some part-time farmers are getting out of farming altogether.
Others argued that the analysis failed to pick up the problem of under-employment.

11. One respondent was unhappy with the tone of the analysis of agriculture. They felt
that the analysis suggested that agriculture would not be an important sector of the economy
in the long term and seemed to propose that it could be abandoned as an economic engine.
They felt that agriculture was a main player in the rural economy and would remain so in the
long-term and this needed to be reflected in the analysis.

Rural Economy

12. By contrast, a significant number of the responses argued that the analysis focused
too much attention on agriculture and pointed out that other sectors of the rural economy, for
example, the textile industry, were also experiencing difficulty. One respondent said that the
information that agriculture employs only a minority of the rural population should be
complemented by information on which sectors are important in employment terms in rural
areas. It was also suggested that little attention had been paid to the strengths or the
potential of the rural economy.




188
Environment

13. A limited number of comments were received on the environment section of the
analysis, but they presented widely divergent views. One respondent questioned the
relevance of the environment section and argued that LEADER+ must not be used to
change rural land into “historical theme park mode”, thereby reducing its ability to support
existing employment. By contrast, another respondent felt that environmental issues had not
received enough attention and argued that the ESA Scheme, the Countryside Management
Scheme, the draft Northern Ireland Biodiversity strategy and NATURA 2000 should all be
given a higher profile. This respondent also felt that reference should have been made to
the shift away from production subsidies signalled by Agenda 2000.

14. There was also disagreement about the approach LEADER+ should take to the natural
resources of rural areas. One respondent felt that the notion of ‘taking advantage of’ natural
resources was unfortunate and suggested that it would be more appropriate to think in terms
of making best use of them and managing and enhancing them for the benefit of future
generations. Another felt that the rural environment is a major strength and should be more
positively promoted as an opportunity for economic development.


Additional issues

15. A number of respondents felt that Annex 4 should have included an analysis of the
services available in rural areas, particularly transport, health, education and employment, in
terms of their quality, access and location compared to services in urban areas. It was also
suggested that there should be an examination of the impact on rural areas of other
government policies in areas such as education, public transport, petrol taxes and health. It
was suggested by a number of respondents that the analysis should have considered the
impact of planning policy. They argued that it hinders economic development and makes it
more difficult for young people set up home in the countryside, which leads to out migration,
hampers the transfer of farms to young people and has an effect on diversification projects.

16. Linked to this issue, some respondents felt that Annex 4 should have demonstrated a
much clearer links to, or input from, other Government policy documents such as Shaping
Our Future or Strategy 2010.

17. Some respondents felt that the analysis was weak on social issues like health and
well-being. They suggested that information should be included on the number of rural
people dependent on social security benefits and health indicators such as the number of
injuries, the health of children, diet and so on.

18. One respondent felt that the section in the analysis on opportunities for development
was weak and should be expanded with information on tourism, IT and telecommunications
infrastructure and high quality and niche market food production. Another picked up on this
theme by requesting a SWOT analysis.




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Consultation question 2: What should the overall aim of LEADER+ in Northern Ireland
be?

19.   33 respondents commented on this question.


Vision

20. There was a general consensus that the vision statement of the Rural Development
Programme was acceptable and that LEADER+ could be comfortably accommodated within
it. However, one respondent felt that LEADER should be totally distinct and autonomous
from the rest of the Rural Development Programme and was unhappy at the attempt to
integrate LEADER+ within the vision and aims of the wider programme.


Overall Aim

21. Ten respondents indicated that they felt the overall aim of the Rural Development
Programme would also be appropriate as the aim of LEADER+.

20. Some of the other respondents suggested issues that should be reflected in the overall
aim and possible alternatives to the RDP aim. Among these were:
     Reflecting the local dimension of LEADER (that is, the delivery through Local Action
      Groups). Two suggestions on how this could be achieved were: ‘to promote
      comprehensive and integrated local action towards the sustainable and equitable
      development of Northern Ireland’s rural areas”; and ‘to support, on a local basis, the
      economic, social and cultural development of areas in Northern Ireland through a
      partnership between all sectors of the community living in the local areas.’
     Recognising the exploratory nature of LEADER and its role a ‘laboratory for rural
      activity’. This was also expressed as ‘channelling energy towards new ways of doing
      things’ and ‘taking risks to learn from actions that can make a difference to the lives of
      people living in rural areas’.
     Emphasising the importance of collaboration and co-operation in the development of
      rural areas.
     Specifying LEADER’s role in encouraging and supporting economic development in
      Northern Ireland’s rural areas. Variations on this theme included ‘to create long-term
      employment opportunities’, ‘to promote job creation’, ‘to encourage the emergence of a
      vibrant rural economy’ and ‘to support a thriving rural economy’.
     Strengthening the focus on entrepreneurial activity within the rural community and
      Facilitating rural people to harness their skills and creativity.
     Incorporating the idea of long-term sustainability into the aim.
     Not targeting LEADER+ at disadvantage in rural areas.
     Embracing the objectives set out paragraph 8 of the Commission guidelines for
      LEADER+ - ‘to enhance the natural and cultural heritage’, ‘to reinforce the economic
      environment’ and ‘to improve the organisational abilities of rural communities’.




190
Consultation question 3: What should the objectives for each of the three Actions be?

21. 23 of the respondents commented on this question. The comments and suggestions
have been grouped together under the headings of the different actions.


Action 1

22. There was some overlap in the comments on the objectives for Action 1 and the
comments on the overall aim for LEADER+. The suggestions for issues that should be
reflected in the objectives included:
     deepening the laboratory approach;
     emphasising the development of strategies and projects to improve the rural economy;
     helping rural people and rural industries to cope with the changes effecting them;
     the local dimension of Local Action Group delivery;
     sustainability; and
     establishing links and networks in the rural economy and with other programmes.

23. Some respondents suggested possible wordings for the objectives. These
suggestions were:
     ‘to pilot and evaluate socially, economically and environmentally sustainable activities
      through investment and development support which will add value to the rural
      economy and society’;
     ‘to establish a locally owned and integrated development strategy that can provide a
      long-term framework and shared vision for collaborative development’;
     ‘to facilitate innovative economic models and ideas building sustainably on local
      resources’; and
     ‘to encourage the formation of social capital, particularly among businesses and
      between farming and non-farming enterprises, which underpins strong and sustainable
      communities. (There is some overlap with Action 2, but co-operation within areas is as
      important as co-operation between areas. Internal co-operation should be included in
      the objectives of Action 1)’


Action 2

24. The comments on the objectives for Action 2 covered a number of points, but they had
a common theme. This is the need for the objective to reflect the need for co-operation
between rural areas, whether within Northern Ireland or between rural areas in Northern
Ireland and elsewhere, to have tangible and real benefits for the rural areas involved.

25.   There were three suggestions for the wording of objectives for Action 2. These were:
     ‘to promote and support models and processes for co-operation between economic
      actors across larger development territories to enhance overall development capacity’;
     ‘to identify and realise functional linkages across and between rural areas that
      increase both local and regional economic capacity and sustainability’; and
     ‘to achieve the aims of action 1 [to develop the economic, social, environmental and
      human capital of the area] in conjunction with other rural areas in Northern Ireland’.


                                                                                           191
Action 3

26. The comments on the objectives for Action 3 reflected on the need to ensure that the
term ‘networking’ is properly defined and is seen to cover all the aspects of networking in
rural areas. The respondents suggested that these aspects included networking within
Northern Ireland, within the UK, within the island of Ireland and within the European Union.
They also pointed out the importance of networking between LEADER groups and other
organisations active in rural areas. One respondent suggested that networking has a
‘vertical’ dimension (that is, between local and regional levels) as well as a ‘horizontal’
dimension (that is, between local groups).

27. The need to ensure that networking produces tangible results on the ground for the
rural community was also highlighted. It was suggested that this would require an active
pursuit by LAGs of the added value that complementary links to other programmes or
support agencies can provide.

28.   The possible wordings for Action 3 suggested by the respondents were:
     ‘to deepen the developing knowledge on rural development through actions that will
      explore, understand and evaluate the learning gained from LEADER+’;
     ‘to achieve the objective of action 1 [to develop the economic, social, environmental
      and human capital of the area] in conjunction with other rural areas outside Northern
      Ireland’;
     ‘to continue with the networking structure in Northern Ireland to allow the dissemination
      of information across all of the LAGs and to provide a collective voice for Northern
      Ireland LEADER+’;
     ‘to arrange linkages that will ensure all LAGs have access to a number of strong
      regional support services able to add to their effectiveness in the formulation and
      implementation of integrated, inclusive and sustainable development strategies’;
     ‘to achieve maximum capacity for Monitoring and Evaluation through an integrated
      framework including effective impact indicators and a common rural baseline’; and
     ‘to ensure complementarity and continuity of development support between LEADER+
      and other programmes’.

29. It was argued by one respondent that the objectives should make the difference
between Action 2 (inter-territorial co-operation) and Action 3 (networking) clear.


General

30. Some of the respondents made general comments about the objectives for the three
Actions. These included suggestions that the objectives:
     should not conflict with or replicate, but at the same time be complementary to and
      distinct from, the objectives and measures in Transitional Objective 1 and Peace II
      Programmes;
     must reflect the objectives outlined in paragraph 8 of the draft Commission guidelines;
     should stress both the process and the outcome involved in the three actions; and
     include considerations of New TSN, equality, inclusiveness and quality of life.




192
Consultation question 4: Should LEADER+ apply to all of Northern Ireland’s rural
areas or be limited only to disadvantaged rural areas?

31. This was one of the questions that attracted the greatest level of comment, with 38 of
the respondents directly addressing this question.

32. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of all of Northern Ireland’s rural areas
being eligible for support from LEADER+, with only 5 respondents arguing that the initiative
should apply to TSN or disadvantaged areas only. The main arguments against limiting
LEADER+ to disadvantaged rural areas only were as follows:
    There is the problem of accurately defining, identifying and measuring rural
     disadvantage. Many of the respondents felt that no suitable methodology for doing
     this is currently available and were concerned that the true extent of deprivation and
     hardship in rural areas is hidden. They felt that the Robson index and the measures
     suggested in the New TSN report were inappropriate for rural circumstances and that
     sections of the population in ‘advantaged areas’ that experience significant
     disadvantage would be excluded.
    Tackling disadvantage should be the responsibility of the Local Action Group, which
     could ensure that funding goes to those areas and applicants most in need.
    LEADER+ is not a suitable programme for tackling disadvantage because of the scale
     of the resources available for it and because the LEADER+ programme has, at its
     core, the promotion of innovative actions to develop the rural economy. Some felt that
     other funding schemes or elements of the Rural Development Programme were more
     appropriate for targeting disadvantage and social need.
    All of Northern Ireland outside Belfast and Londonderry is essentially “rural” in nature
     and, as a result of the difficulties experienced by the agriculture industry, all rural areas
     are disadvantaged.
    The size of Northern Ireland, both geographically and in terms of population, means
     that dividing up rural areas into disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged rural areas
     would be counter-productive. Northern Ireland is already too fractured, with too many
     council areas, too much parochialism and no cohesive strategies for agriculture, rural
     tourism marketing, etc.
    The creation of ‘special’ areas only encourages those areas to attempt to hold on to
     their ‘deprived’ status rather than adopt a proactive and positive stance.

33. However, nine of the respondents to this question argued in favour of allowing all rural
areas to apply for LEADER+ support, but targeting, focusing or weighting the financial
allocations to take account of disadvantage in some way. This disadvantage could be in
terms of the individuals, groups and areas objectively defined as being most in need. Some
respondents felt that this approach would be necessary if the Department is to meet its New
TSN and Equality Duty obligations.




                                                                                              193
Consultation question 5: Should the degree of disadvantage in an area be one of the
criteria used to select the Local Action Groups which will receive support?

34. 36 respondents commented on this question. As might be expected, there was a
significant degree of overlap between the answers to question 4 and the answers to this
question.

35. 16 respondents were of the opinion that disadvantage should not be one of the criteria.
The arguments presented in support of this position were mostly the same as the arguments
against limiting LEADER+ to disadvantaged rural areas only: no reliable method for
measuring disadvantage is available; LEADER+ should be an economic development
programme, not a TSN one; the Robson index is out of date and other methods are partial
and have limited sensitivity; LAGs in less disadvantaged areas may be able to make more
sustainable use to the support received; and including disadvantage as a criterion would
have the effect of excluding disadvantaged individuals or groups. Respondents in this group
felt that the strength of the application – as determined by the quality of the development
strategy drawn up by the LAG, the degree of partnership involved and the capacity and
administrative strength of the group – should be the only determinant of success and that the
degree of disadvantage of the area should be irrelevant.

36. 12 respondents explicitly stated that they were in favour of applying disadvantage as
one of the criteria. Opinion ranged from a belief that disadvantage should be should be the
main criteria applied, in order to ensure that LAGs are based in disadvantaged areas, to a
belief that disadvantage should be a factor in determining the amount of money to be
allocated to LAGs, but not in determining whether they should be selected at all. One
respondent felt that some targeting of disadvantage was important since Area Based
Strategies will not be supported under the 2000-2006 RDP.

37. There was also a small group of respondents who did not explicitly state that they
supported the use of disadvantage as one of the criteria, but who debated how ‘need’ could
be determined. Among the suggestions were:
     land typology - areas with less favoured land may require additional financial support
      to tackle “sustainability issues”;
     objective measures of people’s quality of life, rather than geographical designations;
     measures that reflect the circumstances of the farming community;
     relationships between people, communities and area, which can have a significant
      effect on deprivation and disadvantage;
     an ‘economic integration score’; and
     (because LEADER+ will be funded by the EAGGF) the extent of the areas’
      dependence on agriculture and the comparative advantage of the area for competitive
      primary production.




194
Consultation question 6: What should the priority themes for LEADER+ in Northern
Ireland be? Is micro-business development suitable for inclusion either as an
additional priority theme or as an overarching theme?

38.   This question attracted significant interest, with 37 respondents addressing it.


39. 9 respondents indicated that they were happy with the four priority themes included in
the draft Commission guidelines. These respondents felt that the priorities were sufficiently
broad to allow a comprehensive range of projects to be supported by LEADER+.


Micro-business development as a priority theme for LEADER+

40. In total, 15 respondents explicitly supported the inclusion of micro-business
development as a priority theme for LEADER+ in Northern Ireland. These respondents felt
that micro-businesses can start on a low resource base, achieve balance with environmental
sustainability, be flexible/adaptable and be more likely to enable economic participation by
women, the young and farmers. 9 of the respondents felt that it should be included as an
additional theme while retaining the four existing themes and taking job creation as an
overarching objective for the Programme. The other 6 respondents felt that it should be an
overarching theme. They felt that micro-business development could be linked to, enhance
or pervade the other themes and saw it as a vital element of the programme.

41. By contrast, 8 respondents were opposed to the idea of including micro-business
development, either as an additional or overarching theme. Four main arguments were
advanced to support this position:
     support for micro-businesses as an overarching theme would discourage original and
      ambitious projects of a pilot nature;
     the problems of rural areas are diverse and cannot be solved by a single goal of
      creating employment or a narrow approach of focusing on micro-businesses;
     the focus on micro-businesses could act to the detriment of women; and
     micro-business development is the responsibility of other agencies.

42. 11 respondents, including a number of those who supported the inclusion of micro-
business development as a priority theme as well as those who opposed it, drew attention to
the potential overlap between LEADER+ and the activities of other agencies and
organisations involved in local economic development. Two arguments were put forward in
relation to this concern.
(a)   Some respondents were anxious that the lines of demarcation between LEADER+ and
      the activities of LEDU, the Local Enterprise Agencies and District Councils would be
      unclear, leading to the potential for duplication of effort and confusion among project
      promoters. These respondents felt that it would be important for DARD to work closely
      with LEDU and other Government Departments to ensure LEADER+ is aligned with
      the Small Business Development Plan and for LAGs to work closely with the Local
      Enterprise Agencies to ensure complementarity on the ground.
(b)   Others felt that if LEADER+ supported micro-business development, there was a risk
      that it would substitute for other mainstream initiatives and the activities of the IDB and
      LEDU. There was a suspicion that prioritising micro-businesses would provide other
      government departments with “the excuse to neglect micro-businesses”.



                                                                                             195
43. A number of respondents sought to clarify or broaden the definition of ‘micro-business’.
Among the suggestions on what should be included in the definition were:
     businesses employing between 10 and 20 employees;
     all farm businesses that employ less than 5 people;
     community business and the social economy;
     existing business rather than new business start-ups;
     all rural dwellers with a viable business idea; and
     part-time businesses that can be run alongside a full time job or in conjunction with a
      farm.


Other suggestions for priority themes

44.   Other suggestions for additional priority themes were:
     “Access to the Countryside”.
     “Sustainable Growth” to address the present crisis and maintain the identity of rural
      communities.
     Custodianship of the countryside.
     Identifying and harnessing the development potential of economic sectors to contribute
      to equal opportunities.
     The introduction of new knowledge and know how in micro businesses.
     Farm diversification.
     Rural tourism.
     Improvement to rural services.
     The improvement of the rural environment.
     The promotion of women into self-employment.
     The social and labour market dimensions of the information society.
     The positioning of job opportunities close to the farm gate.
     The promotion of entrepreneurial activity in rural areas to include the development of
      alternative forms of business activity across a wide range of sectors.

45. One respondent felt that five to six years was a long time to set specific limits on the
types of project that could be supported and requested that, whatever themes are selected,
there should be flexibility to allow a change during the lifetime of the programme.




196
Consultation question 7: Should there be other priority groups, in addition to women
and young people, in the Northern Ireland LEADER+ Programme?

46. 31 respondents made comments on this question. The responses fell into two broad
categories – those who suggested additional priority groups and those who felt that the list
should be kept as short as possible to avoid spreading LEADER+ too thin.

47.   The additional priority groups suggested:
     Farmers, farming families and the farming community (this group was suggested by
      just over half of the respondents who commented on this question)
     Unemployed, long-term unemployed and under-employed
     Those interested in enterprise development and those requiring re-skilling, particularly
      those working in threatened industries, particularly agriculture, textiles and rural
      services
     Low-income people / people living in poverty
     Disabled and people with mental illness
     Travellers and other ethnic minorities
     People living in isolated rural areas and rural community groups
     Middle aged men
     Senior citizens
     Protestant community

48. Two respondents pointed out that the equality legislation in Northern Ireland is much
broader than women and young people and needs to be respected in all policies and
programmes and whilst the low level of participation by women and youth in LEADER II
needs to be improved upon, there will need to be incentives to encourage other groupings to
participate fully.

49. Two respondents suggested that Local Action Groups should be given the
responsibility of identifying priority groups according to local circumstances.

50. 6 respondents felt that care should be taken to ensure that the list of priority groups is
kept as small as possible. They felt that all rural dwellers should be a priority and all groups
of society are much more interdependent in rural areas than in urban areas. There were
concerns that targeting groups that are the ‘flavour of the month’ would reduce the potential
impact of LEADER+ and that if too many priority groups are identified, the money available
will be spread too thinly to be of any real use.




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Consultation question 8: Bearing in mind the European Commission’s criteria, what is
the most appropriate geographical area for Local Action Groups in Northern Ireland to
cover?

51.   34 respondents submitted comments in response to this question.

52. 5 respondents argued that the existing LAG areas should be continued because they
have functioned well and there should be no change unless it is necessary and beneficial. It
was felt that disbanding or reorganising the existing groups would result in a loss of
experience and skills and prolong spending as new administrative structures were
established. It was also argued that there must be no “enforced rationalisation” because
problems could arise where the areas being merged are at different stages of development.

53. Of the three options for the geographical basis for Local Action Groups suggested in
the consultation document – District Council areas, counties or ‘areas of natural synergy’ –
basing the groups on counties was the least favoured option, with only two respondents
indicating that county based LAGs would be their first choice. One other respondent
indicated that it would be their second choice. The arguments against counties were that
they are too big to be ‘local’, they have been declining in significance since 1972 and they do
not take account of either modern day innovations, such as improvements in infrastructure or
transport, or important landscape and habitat areas.

54. The attraction of basing LAGs on ‘areas of natural synergy’ was recognised by a
number of respondents, but those respondents also acknowledged that there would be
disadvantages with the approach. 3 respondents indicated that they preferred this option
and one other identified it as their second choice. The objections to areas of natural synergy
were based around practical problems such as the difficulties they would create for
integrating LEADER+ activities with other funding programmes and policies.

55. 8 respondents indicated that they felt Local Action Groups should coincide with District
Council boundaries. They felt that following administrative boundaries has been useful in a
number of cases under LEADER II, that people can easily identify with District Council areas
and that they also have practical benefits. It was also felt that LAGs based on District
Council areas could fit in with other local delivery mechanisms such as the locally based
partnerships being developed under Peace II. One respondent felt that there was a need for
this kind of ‘spatial integration’ to increase efficiency, reduce duplication and confusion and
reduce the voluntary effort demanded of Board members. The main objection to using
District Council areas was that they are based around urban hubs and are therefore not
appropriate for a rural development initiative.

56. 11 respondents supported the concept of ‘sub-regional level’ LAGs covering more than
one District Council area. They argued that it is unlikely that a single District could sustain a
LAG so voluntary arrangements, in which Local Action Groups were formed through the
collaboration, amalgamation or clustering of 2 or more District Councils areas, should be
encouraged and supported. These respondents were also clear that this decision should be
left up to each LAG or group of District Councils.

57. Other comments included the need to include small market towns in LAG areas, the
need to take into account the expected rationalisation of local government, the need to
ensure that all groups must have sufficient resources to allow them to stand alone and the
suggestion that boundaries should have a certain degree of flexibility.




198
Consultation question 9: How many Local Action Groups should there be in Northern
Ireland?

58. 32 respondents commented on this question. The responses tended to reflect the
opinions expressed on the best geographical area for a Local Action Group.

59. Only six respondents made suggestions on the number of LAGs that should be
supported in Northern Ireland. The suggestions were:
    Possibly a dozen LAGs, but, to maximise the benefits of LEADER+ funding, not all
     areas should receive support.
    A minimum of 6 and a maximum of 9.
    “About 12”.
    Six, based on County boundaries.
    Between 10 and 14

60. Although they did not suggest a specific number of LAGs, 14 respondents appeared to
accept, or believe, that some rationalisation of the number of groups in Northern Ireland
might be necessary and that there would, or should, be fewer groups than under Leader II.
The reasons given included limited resources and the belief that a smaller number of groups
would allow greater emphasis to be placed on achieving long term sustainable development.

61. 8 of the existing Local Action Groups responded directly to this question. They argued
that the work of the existing LAGs should be consolidated and that successful groups would
be penalised if they were required to rationalise or amalgamate. They felt that rationalisation
should occur naturally and result from the decisions of the LAGs themselves rather than a
directive from the Department. They also felt that because the Other Collective Bodies
supported under LEADER II would not be a feature of LEADER+, the number of LEADER
groups in Northern Ireland has already been rationalised from 23 to 15.

62. Some respondents suggested issues that should be taken into account by the
Department when deciding on the number of LAGs and criteria upon which the decision
could be based. These issues and criteria included:
    the needs of the areas;
    the need to ensure good geographic ‘mass’ and coverage in order to allow the groups
     to be effective at countering local market failures and rural economic development;
    specific emphasis given to TSN areas; and
    striking a balance between participation, diversity and co-ordination - a higher number
     of groups makes participation and diversity more likely, but a smaller number would
     make co-ordination easier.

63. 4 respondents argued that the Department should not seek to set a specific number of
Local Action Groups because an arbitrary decision would not be sufficiently rational or
sensitive to the needs of local communities. These respondents felt that the number of
LAGs should be worked out in the selection procedure and that there should be flexibility to
change the number during the lifetime of the LEADER+ programme. However, these
arguments ignore the requirement on Member States to ‘inform the Commission of the
number of LAGs it intends to select’ contained in paragraph 27 of the Commission
guidelines.




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Consultation question 10: Should there be additional selection criteria for the
LEADER+ Programme in Northern Ireland? If yes, what should they be?

64.   Comments on this question were received from 34 respondents.

65. 10 respondents felt that no additional criteria should be set. These respondents
generally felt that adding additional criteria would add to the level of bureaucracy
surrounding LEADER+.

66. 13 respondents felt that there should be additional criteria. Among the suggestions on
what those additional criteria should be were:
     experience of delivering and managing Leader II;
     complementarity with other social and economic development programmes;
     an integrated delivery approach with the local authority and other local bodies;
     evidence of the active support of local authorities;
     previous involvement in collaboration initiatives and fostering a proactive and clear
      strategic approach to rural development.
     arrangements for the dissemination and communication of information;
     the impact of the strategy on the ground, including its impact on: sustaining and
      retaining, as well as creating, new jobs; the sustainability of indigenous communities;
      and the problems experienced by rural communities because of the agricultural crisis;
     broadening the development strategy to encompass more than women and young
      people;
     the incorporation of New TSN/disadvantage and Equality considerations into
      strategies;
     the representation of environmental interests and socially excluded groups on LAGs;
      and
     impact on priority/marginalised groups and evidence of the LAG’s efforts to facilitate
      those groups’ participation in project planning, development and decision making, as
      well as the ways in which they will benefit from the strategy.

67. Some respondents felt that the LAGs should be allowed to make and prove their own
case for LEADER+ funding on the strength of their strategy proposals. It was also
suggested that funding should be awarded on a competitive basis.

68. A number of respondents asked that the selection criteria be clearly defined in order to
ensure the transparency and fairness of the selection procedure. In particular, the definition
of the term “pilot”, and the difference between “innovation” in Leader II and “pilot” in
LEADER+, was considered to be very important. Other aspects of the criteria on which
clarification or definition was requested were:
     “balanced and representative selection of partners”;
     how a LAG's members can demonstrate the required abilities;
     what constitutes a “homogenous unit”; and
     what constitutes “critical mass”.




200
Consultation question 11: Who should be on the LEADER+ Monitoring Committee?

69.   31 respondents commented on this question.

70. There was some criticism of the composition and operation of the LEADER II
Monitoring Committee. It was felt that the committee had been too heavily weighted toward
central government and too remote from the people the programme attempted to reach. It
was felt that the LEADER+ Monitoring Committee should have a better balance in its
membership, possibly with an independent chairperson and the process should be more
open and transparent.

71. 10 respondents stated that there should be representation from Local Action Groups
on the Monitoring Committee. 3 of these respondents were happy that this representation
could be provided by the Northern Ireland Leader Network, but the other 7 felt that the
Network is not sufficiently representative and indicated a preference for representatives
drawn directly from the LAGs.

72. 7 respondents stated that District Councils should be represented on the Monitoring
Committee because they play an important role in local development. Some of these
respondents felt that the representation should be provided by SOLACE, while others
appeared to favour direct representation from rural Councils.

73. Other respondents suggested that the Monitoring Committee should include
representation from a range of other organisations and institutions, including:
     the European Commission;
     Government officials from all departments with an interest in rural issues (for example,
      DARD’s Countryside Management Division and the Environment and Heritage
      Service);
     elected representatives, possibly from the Assembly;
     the Rural Development Council;
     community and voluntary sector representatives, who could be facilitated through the
      RCN or Sub-Regional Networks;
     the two farming organisations (that is, the UFU and NIAPA);
     Northern Ireland wide organisations with an interest in agriculture, rural development
      and the environment;
     the Equality Commission;
     academics with an interest in experimentation in rural development activities; and
     organisations with expertise in designing impact measures, such as the RSPB
      (environmental impacts) or the NIEC (economic impacts).

74. 6 respondents argued that the composition of the Monitoring Committee should follow
the same principle as the composition of Local Action Groups – no more than 50% of the
members should be elected representatives or government officials.

75. 3 respondents highlighted the need to ensure that the membership is balanced in
terms of religion, gender, age and the other Section 75 designations.




                                                                                           201
Consultation question 12: In percentage terms, what should the funding split between
the four priorities listed in paragraph 5.32 be for LEADER + in Northern Ireland?

76.       26 respondents made suggestions on the percentage split of the LEADER+:
                                                                                                              *
        Action 1                Action 2                Action 3               Action 4            Action 5
            90                      3                       2                         5                 -
            80                      10                      5                         1                 4
          95.55                    1.5                     2.5                       0.45               -
            80                      10                     50                         5                 -
            90                      3                       2                         5                 -
            79                      15                     3.5                       2.5                -
            91                      2                       2                         5                 -
            75                      10                      5                        10                 -
            75                      5                       5                        15                 -
            75                      15                      5                         1                 4
            75                      15                      5                         1                 4
            80                      10                      5                         5                 -
            75                      10                     10                        0.5               4.5
            75                      10                     10                        0.5               4.5
            90                      5                       3                         2                 -
            50                      27                     10                        13                 -
            87                      7                       5                         1                 -
            75                      8                       2                        12                 -
            75                      10                      5                        10                 -
            70                      15                      5                        10                 -
            60                      20                     10                        10                 -
            90                      5                       3                         2                 -
            80                      10                      5                         5                 -
            75                      10                     10                         5                 -
           73.0                    12.5                   10.0                       0.5               4.0
                                         **                     ***                       ***
            80                     14                    10.5                    0.5
*                                   th
 Some respondents felt that a 5 action should be included to cover the costs of the NI LEADER Network,
possibly for some kind of monitoring and evaluation role.
**
      This percentage covers co-operation within, as well as between, territories.
***
    These percentages assume that Action 3 will include a degree of ‘vertical’ networking (i.e., local to regional
links) that will cover technical support for groups. Action 4 is assumed to mean just monitoring and evaluation at
regional level.



77. There was a general consensus that the largest proportion of funds should be directed
towards Action 1 and that Action 2 (co-operation) would require more money that trans-
national co-operation under LEADER II because it covered a wider range of activities. It was
also felt that the percentages should be flexible to allow a response to changing needs or
circumstances.




202
Consultation question 13: How should the funding for co-operation projects be
allocated? Who should decide which projects should receive funding? What criteria
should they use when reaching their decisions?

78.   28 respondents commented on this question.


Method of allocation

79. Most of the comments on how the funding for co-operation projects should be
allocated fell into three broad groups. The first group of respondents felt that the funding for
co-operation projects should be handled in the same way as under LEADER II. This would
involve allocating the funding to Local Action Groups at the outset of the programme and
allowing each LAG to decide which projects it becomes involved with and how much money
it commits to those projects. It was felt that local control would speed up the process.

80. The second group of respondents felt that the funding for co-operation projects should
be allocated through a separate centrally managed bidding process on a project by project
basis. This system would be similar to that used to allocate the trans-national co-operation
funding managed by AEIDL under LEADER II. Among the suggestions put forward on the
nature of the body that would take the decisions on the projects to be supported were:
     an independent body comprised of central and local government, the European
      Commission and LAG representatives;
     a panel with representatives from DARD and the Northern Ireland LEADER Network;
     the LEADER Monitoring committee;
     a sub-group of the LEADER Monitoring Committee;
     the North South Implementation body on EU Special Programmes;
     Ministers (either devolved or NIO) acting on the advice of the Monitoring Committee
      and the North South body; and
     regional committees with representatives from outside the area should be set up to
      assess applications (for example, the committee for the North East area should include
      representatives from west of the Bann).

81. The third group of respondents sought to combine the other two approaches by
suggesting that a portion of the co-operation activity budget should be allocated to the Local
Action groups at the outset, with the remainder being held centrally for allocation at a later
date. The amount to be allocated at the outset varied from ‘a small amount to initiate and
establish contacts’ to over 75%. The centrally held portion would be allocated on the basis
of decisions taken by LAGs and DARD, in consultation with the Northern Ireland LEADER
Network.

82. A small number of respondents felt that a regional body or network, such as the
Northern Ireland LEADER Network could be given a role in facilitating inter-territorial and
trans-national links and helping projects to emerge.

83. One respondent suggested that similar mechanisms for handling co-operation
projects, especially cross-border co-operation projects, need to be established in Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It was suggested that the North South Implementation
Body on EU Special Programmes would have an important role in this.



                                                                                              203
Criteria for co-operation projects

84. A number of respondents argued that the funding for co-operation projects should be
allocated on a project by project basis, judged solely on the strength of each application in
terms of the identifiable and quantifiable benefits that the project would bring for the wider
communities in the rural areas concerned.

85. However, most respondents felt that there should be clear and open criteria and a
broad range of suggestions was put forward, including:
     the criteria should be the same as those for Action 1 with the additional requirement
      that they must be on a cross-area basis;
     the criteria used under Leader II;
     the long-term sustainability of the project and the level of co-operation that will
      continue after the project;
     the benefits in economic, environmental, social and cultural terms for the people
      involved in the project, the rural areas concerned and the rural economy;
     the creation of employment opportunities;
     the potential for environmental improvement;
     cross community impact;
     the degree of disadvantage of the areas concerned;
     creating economies of scope or scale;
     generating trade on a trans-national basis;
     providing impetus to the theory of the single market;
     success in breaking down barriers between Member States;
     involving countries outside the EU;
     the ‘transferability’ or demonstration effect of the project;
     projects must be well resourced, both financially and with human resources;
     value for money;
     viability;
     compatibility of the areas involved in the co-operation; and
     ‘functional justification’, meaning that it would not be enough to claim that the project
      would achieve improvements in critical mass – it would be necessary to show how this
      can be realised in a functional sense.

86. Detailed consideration of the responses to this question suggests that most
respondents were thinking of co-operation in terms of only one of its dimensions – within
Northern Ireland, ‘cross-border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or
‘trans-national’ between Northern Ireland and other parts of the EU. It may be necessary to
devise separate mechanisms and criteria for the three different dimensions to ensure that
they are all covered adequately.




204
Consultation question 14: What arrangements should be put in place for networking
under LEADER+ in Northern Ireland?

Consultation question 15: What arrangements should there be for networking across
the United Kingdom?

Consultation question 16: How could networking with the Republic of Ireland be
organised?


87.   28 respondents submitted comments on the networking arrangements for LEADER+.

88. 9 respondents felt that the existing Northern Ireland LEADER Network is effective and
works reasonably well. These respondents felt that the Network should be consolidated,
expanded and provided with core funding to undertake its activities. It was argued that core
funding would allow the Network to take on the promotion of LEADER and some monitoring
and evaluation activities. By contrast, 6 respondents listed concerns about the operation of
the Northern Ireland LEADER Network and 4 respondents felt that a completely new
representative body should be selected to manage networking opportunities in Northern
Ireland. One felt that a group with vision was needed to promote this in a meaningful and
purposeful way.

89. Some suggestions on how the networking arrangements in Northern Ireland could be
improved included:
     making more use of modern Information Technology;
     strengthening its links with the Rural Community Network and the Sub-Regional
      Networks to encourage a wider understanding of LEADER in the rural community;
     extending the scope of the network beyond LAGs and include other bodies;
     including a strong support element to ‘ensure LAGs have access to a number of
      regional support services able to add to their effectiveness in the formulation and
      implementation of integrated, inclusive and sustainable development strategies’; and
     having at least 2 board members and a manager from each LAG.


90. There was limited support for a continuation of the current arrangements, with only 4
respondents indicating that they believed the existing UK LEADER Network should continue.
There was a general consensus in the responses that the experience of using a private
consultancy had not been positive. The preferred alternative was for the four regional
networks in the UK (that is, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales) to come
together and take collective responsibility for the delivery of a UK Network. Three
suggestions on how this could be organised were put forward.
     a Steering Committee comprising 2 or 3 representatives from each regional network
      could be established to run the UK network;
     other successful UK Networks, such as the Standing Conference for Community
      Development and the Family Farm Federation of England, Scotland, Wales and
      Ireland, could provide a model for opportunities for LEADER Networking; and
     the Regional LEADER networks should join forces with the regional rural networks
      such as ACRE and RCN to deliver the National Leader Network.




                                                                                         205
91. Some respondents felt the potential of the UK aspect of networking had not been
actively pursued by either the Northern Ireland LEADER Network or individual Local Action
Groups under LEADER II. There were suggestions that UK wide networking could be
enhanced by
     adding more information to the UK LEADER website, such as lessons from projects
      that could be applied elsewhere and contact names and addresses and developing a
      message board system and chat room facility on the internet;
     the implementation of an appropriate mechanism to facilitate information
      dissemination;
     the organisation of a series of networking conferences throughout the British Isles;
     the continuation of workshops and conferences within Northern Ireland and across the
      UK; and
     focusing study visits between LAGs on specific themes.

92. Two respondents highlighted the need to consider what issues should be dealt with by
the local (that is, Northern Ireland based) network and what issues should be dealt with by
the national (that is, United Kingdom wide) network. Different issues can be dealt with more
effectively at different levels – for example, ‘on the ground’ networking can be more
effectively in a local context –and this demarcation of responsibility needs to be spelt out
from the outset.

93. The majority of the respondents to this question were in favour of building on the
existing informal relationships between LEADER groups in Northern Ireland and the
Republic of Ireland and the cross-border work carried out under LEADER II by creating a
more formal structure. It was suggested that this might be done by creating a Steering
Committee with 2 or 3 members each from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or
by creating an all-Ireland network. It was widely recognised that the North-South
Implementation Body for Special EU Programmes would have an important role in this.
There were suggestions that the formal cross-border networking structures could be
enhanced by involving other bodies like the Rural Community Network, Irish Rural Link and
the Cross-Border Community Workers’ Network. One respondent argued that the
networking arrangements should be agreed by the Departments and networks on both sides
of the border before the two LEADER+ programmes are written.

94. Only one respondent felt that networking links with the Republic of Ireland should not
be given special attention, but considered as part of the European structure for LEADER
Networking.

95. 6 respondents felt that the North South link should also be extended to take in the
East-West dimension by creating a formal link, possibly some kind of Forum, between the
UK Leader Network and Comhar Leader na hEireann. It was felt that there are already
considerable links at administrative, LAG and NGO level on an East West basis and this
experience should be built upon. There was a suggestion that networking could be
organised by secretariat of the Council of the Isles, with reference to the Ministers in each
part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland

96. As with networking in Northern Ireland the UK, many respondents saw potential for
North-South networking to be enhanced by using modern technology and developing the
links between the websites of the Northern Ireland, UK and Republic of Ireland Networks.




206
            ANNEX 3



SUMMARY OF ‘MINI BUSINESS PLANS’




                                   207
208
                      SUMMARY OF ‘MINI BUSINESS PLANS’


18 submissions were received by the Department of Agriculture and Rural
Development. Of these, 17 provided business plans and 1 provided comments only.


Proposed LEADER Groups

In total, 16 prospective groups submitted mini business plans. They were, in
alphabetical order:

1.    Armagh Beekeepers

2.    Business Foundations Leader Group

3.    Craigavon Rural Development/Armagh District Leader (submitted as 2 plans.
      No joint name as yet)

4.    East Tyrone Rural (ETR) Local Action Group

5.    Fermanagh Local Action Group

6.    Lagan Valley Leader Group

7.    Lower Bann Leader Limited

8.    Magherafelt Area Partnership Limited

9.    Newry & Mourne Rural Development Partnership (joint submission by Newry
      and Mourne District Council and the South Down and South Armagh Local
      Action Group)

10.   North Antrim Leader

11.   North West Rural Development (NWRD)

12.   Ollardale Limited

13.   Roe Valley Leader Group Ltd

14.   South Antrim Leader

15.   The Rural Down Partnership

16.   West Tyrone Rural Limited

Many of the prospective LEADER+ groups will be made up of a combination of 2, 3 or
more existing LEADER II Local Action Groups bringing together previous experience
under one board with each LAG retaining its own identity and autonomy. In some
cases an area previously covered by an Area Based Strategy has also been included.




                                                                                  209
Themes

Of the four themes outlined in the Commission Notice to Member States on LEADER+,
the following were proposed by the prospective Local Action Groups:

     Improving the quality of life in rural areas (9 Groups)

     Use of know how and new technologies to make products/services more
      competitive (8 Groups)

     Adding value to local resources and products (4 Groups)

     Making the best use of natural and cultural resources (2 Groups)

Other themes suggested included:

     Encouraging farm diversification and rural enterprise

     Enhancing the aesthetic value of the environment

     Empowering the rural community

     Creating employment in the rural economy as part of an integrated approach.

     Strengthening local businesses

     Developing new activity tourism products

Other proposed themes were presented more as objectives than unifying themes for
the proposed strategies. These included:

     To increase and sustain employment

     To create innovative opportunities to improve the quality of life and to meet the
      changing need of our rural community with particular emphasis on job creation,
      maintenance and enhancement.

     To develop the regions rural resources and enhance economic revitalisation
      through developing a strategic approach aimed at implementing employment
      opportunities using information technologies to add value.

     To provide a framework for improving the quality of life in rural communities in
      South Antrim by opening opportunities and reducing barriers to micro-business
      development and job creation.

     To increase the competitiveness of businesses within the rural community through
      the use of new technologies and know-how and thus improving the overall quality
      of life of individual.

     To advance the development of the rural economy so as to attain a “thriving
      economy, a quality environment and a flourishing community”.

     Will focus on job creation linked to micro-business development with particular
      emphasis being paid to the agricultural sector.




210
Activities

A wide range of activities were proposed by the prospective Local Action Groups.
These can be grouped under the following broad headings, although the list is not
exhaustive:

       Training/Human Resource Development
         Undertake an audit of rural skills and the skill requirements of rural industry.
         Develop micro business management skills.
         Provide individuals with the confidence and the skills and knowledge required
          to access the available employment opportunities.
         Provide individuals with the skills to start their own business or improve
          current business.
         Improve the provision of flexible and affordable training for rural people.
         Encourage access to the mainstream capacity building opportunities available
         Develop innovative programmes to support the adoption of new skills needed
          by local businesses
         Develop technology skills to allow rural firms to compete in global markets.
         Women’s development programme to facilitate personal and confidence
          development, skills enhancement and achievement of vocational
          qualifications,
         Young person’s development programme to improve the skills, confidence and
          qualifications of young people.
         ICT competency development for young persons
         Replenishment of numbers in the skilled trades currently under supplied
         Dual and multiple skilling for farm family members.
         Rural Leadership Programme – comprehensive skills development
          programme.

       Agriculture
         On-farm diversification enterprises established either individually or
          collectively
         Undertake an awareness campaign to promote organic production – e.g.,
          beef, milk, cheese and vegetables.
         Stimulate added value amongst primary producers.
         IT training programme designed to give farmers the opportunity to assess the
          current position of their business and investigate alternative farm enterprise.
         Provide the resources to research, test or commercialise new technologies or
          know-how to improve production process on farms.
         Investigate and introduce systems that will improve marketing techniques by
          means of collective actions within the agricultural sector;



                                                                                         211
           Rural Tourism
             Provision of B&B and self catering facilities;
             Central reservation systems.
             Collective marketing and branding programmes.
             Activity tourism packages.
             Development of water based tourism products and amenities
             Village based tourism (to include activity development, developing local
              culture and heritage tourism, the utilisation of neglected building, improvement
              of visual appearance).

           The Application of New Technology
             Supporting sustainable business development through utilising new
              technology.
             Technology Transferability Initiative (the employment of an officer to initiate
              pilot projects).
             Encourage businesses to look at their technology goals and develop their
              business strategy around these goals.
             Introduction of ICT to business processes (introduction of information and
              communication technology to businesses).
             Increase the level and efficiency of IT use in the micro-enterprise sector
             Assist micro-enterprises to assess and improve their products and processes
              especially through benchmarking and best practice.
             Use of the internet as an essential business information tool
             Sectoral innovation in farming, food, quarrying, construction, engineering,
              automotive, alternative energy, road haulage, crafts, tourism, environment,
              care and rural services.
             Development of a Rural Internet Initiative – develop a local Internet on the
              “RuralNet” electronic network.

           Developing Local Products
             Research into opportunities arising from local rural produce.
             Encourage diversification into new products using local produce
             Encourage growth of craft sector with a comprehensive programme of support
              for craft producers.
             Local awareness scheme to promote local produce, development of a chain of
              local produce outlets.
             Assistance with targeting markets, identifying opportunities and strategies;
              encouraging the participation in quality schemes by rural enterprises.
             Increase further processing to add value to local products.
             Establishment of regional brands.



212
       Small Business Development
         Pre-start up enterprise support (mentoring, confidence development, business
          ideas generation and planning so that business starts off or expands on a
          secure basis).
         Work with rural business & farm groups to establish better collaboration
          potential,
         Capital support for the purchase of machinery or equipment
         Support for the production of relevant marketing materials.
         Development & support of rural workspace units, including the conversion of
          existing farm units for workspace and the development of hi-tech business
          units to encourage entrepreneurs in rural areas.
         Collective marketing schemes – local businesses to co-operate and network to
          develop new products and improve marketing capability
         Cluster development, including incubator clusters.
         Analysis and restructuring of business operations, including training, work
          experience, employment and sub-contract opportunities and redesigning
          management systems.
         Grant aid to businesses to facilitate female employees.
         Establishment of a bureau service for PAYE and other administrative tasks.
         Cross Border Trade Initiative – consolidate and aid expansion into the RoI
          market by local companies.

       Environment
         Support for community-based environmental projects
         Waste management initiatives.
         Renewable energy initiatives.
         Development of environmental skills.
         Renovating old buildings for new purposes to alleviate the problem of
          dereliction and bring old buildings back into use for workspace, visitor
          accommodation, retail space and communal activities/facilities, etc.
         Archaeological sites access programme to protect and facilitate the
          development of sites of interest including maintenance grants, access
          assurances, insurance and collective marketing.
         Encouragement for the emergence of environmentally friendly products and
          practices.
         Encouraging the advancement and marketing of environmental tourism
          products and practices
         Helping to foster among the population an interest in the environment.
         A ‘Bio Diversity Scheme’ to support landowners to protect, manage and
          enhance the landscape with environmentally beneficial methods.




                                                                                        213
         Others
            Empowering the rural community (including the provision of resources for rural
             community groups such as expertise, personnel, training & support,
             information).
            Development of childcare facilities.
            A ‘rural job-link’ to promote employment opportunities amongst the rural
             population.
            A Support framework for rural businesses, including a Virtual office (to
             become an on-line first stop shop); Walk-in Office (to provide free physical
             access to information;
            Cultural Development Programme to maximise the economic impact of culture
             in the local community.


Co-operation projects

The groups proposed co-operation links with groups in the following countries.

         Other parts of the UK, particularly Scotland

         Republic of Ireland (Border regions in general, Arigna, Carrick-on-Shannon,
          Carlow, Clare, Donegal, Inishowen, Louth, Monaghan, Offaly, Tory island,
          Wexford)

         Austria (Burgenland)

         Belgium (Somme)

         Denmark

         Finland

         France (Ruelle, Corsica, Haute Auvergne, Gentiane)

         Germany (Dorsten)

         Italy

         Netherlands.

         Sweden

         Spain (Poniente Granadino)

         USA (Arizona, Seattle)

         Canada (Niagara, Buffalo)




214
              ANNEX 4



ANALYSIS OF EQUALITY CONSIDERATIONS




                                      215
216
        EQUALITY CONSIDERATIONS FOR LEADER+ PROGRAMME



Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the proposed Northern Ireland LEADER+
Programme in the light of the Section 75 statutory duty arising from the Northern
Ireland Act (1998).

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Draft Equality Scheme has
provided for a full Equality Impact Assessment of the LEADER+ programme in Year 3
of the Equality Scheme (that is, in 2003). This paper will therefore seek to identify the
likely equality impact of the LEADER+ Programme for the groups specified in the Act
and to identify the baseline and monitoring data required to facilitate a full Equality
Impact Assessment in year three of the DARD Equality Scheme.



The Section 75 duty, Northern Ireland Act 1998

The Section 75 duty requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to
promote equality of opportunity among the following groups:
     Persons of different religious belief
     Persons of different political opinion
     Persons of different racial group
     Persons of different age
     Persons of different marital status
     Persons of different sexual orientation
     Men and women generally
     Persons with a disability and persons without
     Persons with dependants and persons without

In addition public authorities are also required to have regard to the desirability of
promoting good relations between the following groups:
     Persons of different religious belief
     Persons of different political opinion
     Persons of different racial group




                                                                                         217
Does the proposed Leader+ programme demonstrate due regard to the need to
promote equality of opportunity among the groups above?

The main characteristics of the LEADER+ Programme have been considered in the
light of this question.


1.    Eligible Area

      No accurate up to date baseline information is currently available on the
      demographic breakdown of population in the area eligible for the LEADER+
      Programme. Therefore, it is not possible to identify whether there is a higher or
      lower concentration of any of the groups specified in the Act within the eligible
      area as compared with Northern Ireland as a whole. However, it is likely that in
      most cases the demographic and social breakdown of the eligible area will be
      broadly representative of Northern Ireland as a whole.

      If information becomes available which shows that the eligible area has a higher
      concentration of one of the groups specified than the rest of Northern Ireland, the
      selection of the eligible area would be justified on the basis that the LEADER+
      Programme seeks to address the particular social and economic disadvantage of
      rural areas in the region. Therefore any evidence of higher uptake of the
      programme from one of the groups specified, based on a higher concentration of
      that group living in the eligible area, would not be discriminatory. Furthermore,
      the definition of ‘rural’ for the purposes of LEADE+ takes into account the
      definition of ‘urban’ for urban regeneration programmes and would balance any
      perceived disparity.


2.    Objectives of LEADER+ in Northern Ireland

      The LEADER+ Programme will be open to applications from everyone in the
      eligible area. However, the Programme will aim to focus on the following target
      groups:
           women
           young people
           farmers and farm families and
           the long-term unemployed.

      It is likely therefore that there will be evidence of a higher uptake of the
      programme among these groups.

      However, guidance from the Equality Commission makes clear that there is no
      incompatibility between addressing disadvantage and the Section 75 duty. Given
      that the primary aim of targeting these groups specifically under the LEADER+



218
     Programme is that evidence exists that these groups are more disadvantaged, there
     is no incompatibility between this provision of LEADER+ and the statutory
     equality duty.


3.   Local Action Groups

     The delivery mechanism for LEADER+ will be Local Action Groups (LAGs).
     These LAG’s will develop area strategies and administer funding.

     Eligibility for membership of a specific LAG is dependent on either living or
     having a major work interest in the target area. This may result in a concentration
     of people with a similar religion and political affiliation due to the political
     geography of Northern Ireland, in a specific LAG. It will be important that
     consideration is given to the composition of LAG’s across the eligible area, to
     ensure they are representative of the population.

     Given that LAGs will be involved in administering public money they could be
     viewed as a public authority and therefore covered by the Northern Ireland Act. It
     is not likely that each LAG will be required to publish an equality scheme but
     they should operate with reference to the Department of Agriculture and Rural
     Development’s Equality Scheme. It is important therefore that guidance and
     training on discharging the equality duty are provided to members of LAG’s. The
     requirement that LAG’s demonstrate how they have taken account of the need to
     promote equality of opportunity should also be extended to take account of the
     need to promote good relations between the three groups specified.

     It will be necessary to monitor the gender, religious and political composition of
     LAG members in order to effectively assess the impact of LEADER+ on equality.
     It will be important that the composition of the applicants to all LAGs are
     monitored for evidence of a disparate take up throughout the nine categories. It
     will also be important to gather similar data on the projects funded through
     LEADER+ to ensure that the programme is accessible to a wide cross-section of
     people in the eligible area.


4.   Selection of Local Action Groups

     One of the criteria used to assess the eligibility of applications from Local Action
     Groups and the development strategies includes the extent to which the strategy
     will target disadvantage and the needs of disadvantaged or marginalised groups in
     the area that it covers. This aspect of the criteria is in keeping with the new TSN
     objectives and the Equality Commission has made clear that new TSN and the
     statutory equality duty are compatible. It is therefore not considered that this
     criteria will pose any difficulties in respect of the Statutory Equality duty.




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5.    Summary

      The LEADER+ initiative has the capacity to promote equality of opportunity
      between men and women, persons of different religious belief and political
      affiliation. It is not considered at this stage that there is anything inherent in the
      proposals that is discriminatory against any of the nine groups specified in the
      Northern Ireland Act.

      However, accurate monitoring information is required to determine whether or not
      there is a disparate uptake from any of the groups specified and identify steps to
      mitigate any disparities identified.



Does the Leader+ proposals demonstrate regard to the need to promote good
relations among the three groups specified?

The LEADER+ Programme should have an positive effect in the promotion of good
relations among men and women through its specific targeting of women and promoting
the integration of men and women in the labour force and training activities.

The LEADER+ Programme has the potential to play a role in promoting good relations
between those of different religious beliefs and political affiliation through encouraging
co-operation between rural areas in Northern Ireland.



Monitoring Data required

The monitoring data which will be required in order to conduct an effective equality
impact assessment of the Leader+ programme includes:

1.    Baseline information on rural Northern Ireland compared with Northern Ireland as
      a whole. This information can be collated from data collected in the 2001 Census
      and the Rural Development Council’s ‘Baselining Rural Northern Ireland’
      exercise, as well as other existing data.

2.    A breakdown of Local Action Group composition by gender, religious and
      political affiliation, age marital status and disability, where possible. Any
      collation of data in this respect obviously needs to take into account the sensitive
      nature of some of the information required.

3.    Applications to Local Action Groups and projects awarded funding by Groups
      should be monitored, where possible, to give a breakdown of gender, religious
      and political affiliation and religion.




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The Equality Impact Assessment will need to assess evidence of a disparate uptake
among any of the nine categories. This can be achieved by monitoring applications for
assistance through LEADER+. If information shows either a lower proportion of
applications or successful applications from one of the nine groups then consideration
must be given to taking steps to mitigate this.

Data collation for some of the areas required will be difficult owing to the particularly
sensitive nature of information relating to sexual orientation, religious belief and
political affiliation and disability. Mechanisms need to be found to ensure that the
LEADER+ Programme is not directly or indirectly excluding such groups.




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          ANNEX 5



DETAILED MAP OF ELIGIBLE AREA




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           ANNEX 6



DESCRIPTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT




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                              Description Of The Environment
Background

Northern Ireland’s environment is one of the region’s key assets and has the potential to
contribute further to the development of the region, securing economic, social and
environmental benefits for Northern Ireland.

The environment provides an important basis for economic development, both directly
through growth in those sectors already involved in and providing for the management of the
environment, and indirectly through the contribution of a healthy and high quality
environment across the region, making it a place where people want to live and work.

The link between the environment and economic development is a key theme running through
Shaping our Future, the Regional Strategic Framework for Northern Ireland. Within this
assessment, the consideration of the strategy for the environment focuses on the protection and
management of environmental resources and aims to promote within the wider community a greater
awareness of environmental issues and to create environments that will contribute to health and
well-being. The strategy should promote the protection of the Region's strategic environmental
assets which it recognises need to be managed to benefit the whole community and as a means of
enhancing tourism and economic development opportunities. The importance of reducing
environmental costs by reducing natural resources consumption will form another major theme of
the strategy.

The Environment Programme is presented in three parts: built heritage, natural environment and
environmental protection.

The overall aim is to encourage shared responsibility for the environment and to provide
opportunities for citizens to play a part in protecting and enhancing the environment of Northern
Ireland.

 community development: some issues are best dealt with at the local level as local communities
  are best placed to understand local needs and to increase local involvement to bring about
  positive changes. Maintenance, conservation and enhancement of the environment can provide a
  means of enhancing local community identity and serve to bring divided communities together
  with a common non-controversial goal;

 raising awareness: despite significant progress in terms of raising awareness of environmental
  issues, there is a continuing need for environmental education within the wider regional
  community, including the commercial sector, to draw attention to specific issues in order to
  bring about changes in behaviour (e.g. resource conservation through re-use, recycling, energy
  efficiency and energy conservation, promotion of more active lifestyles, wider participation in
  conservation work, etc); and

   all Ireland environment: many of Ireland’s environmental assets such as areas of outstanding
    natural beauty, loughs, coastlines, flora and fauna are common to Northern Ireland and Ireland.
    Overall, the island of Ireland has a "clean and green" image, although the image of Northern
    Ireland is somewhat affected by the violence of the past 30 years. In view of these factors, there




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      will be an emphasis on co-operation between both parts of the island in relation to maintenance,
      conservation, enhancement, and promotion of the environment of all Ireland.

Built Heritage

For many people Northern Ireland’s green image has the region’s landscapes and natural
environment as its point of reference. The region’s rich resource of monuments, buildings,
archaeological sites and other built heritage resources are less well known.

The built heritage is a valuable source of heritage information and provides a physical link with the
past. It has an important regenerative role to play in terms of the creation of partnerships and bridge
building arising from its educational and community development impact.

The built heritage can also contribute to community regeneration in a very practical way through
the re-use of redundant buildings as social locations or shared small business/workshop space.

There is also significant tourism potential. With improved information, accessibility and signage
the region’s buildings, monuments and archaeological sites can greatly enhance the tourism
experience of visitors to Northern Ireland.

Many historic monuments and buildings, parks and gardens in private hands are in urgent need of
conservation work if they are to survive as part of the Region’s heritage and contribute to its future
prosperity.

Natural Heritage

Northern Ireland is rich in environmental resources notably its unspoilt countryside and its rich
diversity of wildlife and it remains imperative that effective strategies and structures are in place to
manage these assets. There is a wide variety and quality of landscapes and diversity of plant and
animal species. Some 20 percent of the region and 70 percent of the coastline is designated as an
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Giant’s Causeway is designated a World
Heritage Site. At the same time, some of the region’s most important environmental assets are
located in the more remote and economically disadvantaged areas.

The Regional Strategic Framework for Northern Ireland sets out proposals to assist the development
of a strong and vibrant rural community complementing the continued growth of the main urban
areas in line with the UK Government’s commitments at the Rio Summit and under various
Community Directives, the key themes underlying rural economic activity and growth are
sustainability and biodiversity.

For the most part action on the ground to deliver biodiversity through both site designation and
management and wider countryside measures in Northern Ireland lags substantially behind activity
elsewhere in the UK. For example the designation programme for ASSIs is incomplete whereas in
GB an equivalent network of SSSIs has been established for many years. There is also a far greater
reliance in Northern Ireland on compensation-based management agreements rather than the
positive style of agreements adopted by GB conservation agencies which bring greater benefits to
biodiversity.




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Many of the habitats and species requiring the most urgent conservation action in Northern Ireland
are dependent on traditional land-use and/or restricted to special sites. These are often found in the
more remote and disadvantaged rural areas of Northern Ireland. Economic support for
disadvantaged rural areas that encourages sustainable traditional land-use practices is likely to
produce substantial benefits to biodiversity. Furthermore the funding of projects which enhance
biodiversity will provide economic support to disadvantaged rural communities. Secondary
benefits will also result from an increase in landscape value, as many habitats important for
biodiversity are important components of the Northern Ireland landscape. This in turn could
enhance green tourism.

The recently-published Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy has made 76 recommendations for
action and identified 40 important habitats, 72 UK important species and a further 36 NI important
species for which conservation action is urgently required. There has been a serious decline in the
area of species-rich grassland, and the woodland cover is extremely low.

The green tourism potential of Northern Ireland remains largely untapped. The situation in
Northern Ireland during ‘the troubles’ and the negative impact which this has had on tourism (in
particular the number of visitors attracted) has prevented the development of eco-tourism in the
region. Northern Ireland now finds itself lagging behind other countries (notably Ireland) in terms
of the development of this key asset.

The Northern Ireland Landscape Character Survey has identified many threats to the 130 landscape
character areas into which the Region has been classified. These include loss of features such as
hedges, stone walls and vernacular buildings as well as the impacts of quarrying and inappropriate
development. There is an urgent requirement to address the conservation of the outstanding
landscapes of the Region and the rehabilitation of settings of some of the main settlements.

The growing importance of the sustainable use of special landscape or scenic areas as the basis for
social and economic regeneration is now internationally recognised. In Northern Ireland, the
special landscapes are or will be designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The
role of AONBs in sustaining the region’s natural and cultural heritage, maintaining local
communities and providing educational and recreational experiences is becoming increasingly
obvious.

Steps have been taken through the establishment of formalised ‘co-ordinating committees’ and a
Northern Ireland Countryside Access and Activities Network to manage such matters on a strategic
basis and base-line research is now being commissioned into many of the issues pertaining to the
sustainable use of the rural environment.

Historically, Northern Ireland has lagged behind other parts of the EU in the designation and
practical management of ‘protected areas’ whether such designation is for landscape reasons or
because of habitats, species or special scientific reasons. In the area of protected landscapes, for
example, enabling legislation dates from 1985 whereas that in England and Wales dates from 1949.
Moreover, the unique nature and history of land ownership in Northern Ireland also means that
physical access to such areas is also much more problematical than in other parts of Europe and that
a greater degree of intervention is necessary to create any infrastructure to support recreation and
tourism.




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Measures are now in place to proceed on a planned basis with the designation of all protected areas.
The diversification of the rural economy and the longer-term economic benefits flowing from this
should ultimately justify the extra resources involved and examples from elsewhere readily
highlight the net value of green tourism. It is likely that in any case the structure of the rural
economy will change with ongoing reforms to the CAP and that husbandry by individual
landowners will become a significant economic activity.


Environmental Protection


The island of Ireland has a "clean and green" image which is a major asset and selling point in
seeking to attract inward investment and in developing the tourism sector.

The economic and social importance of Northern Ireland’s built and natural environment is outlined
above and is a key driver within the draft Regional Strategic Framework for Northern Ireland.
Environmental Protection provides the mechanisms both to prevent damage to the Region’s key
asset and also to enhance it further through the attainment of higher standards of environmental
quality and healthier living environments.

The role of environmental protection is to safeguard and improve the environment for the benefit of
those who live, work or visit the region. This widespread responsibility means that the actions of
each resident, industrial player and tourist have an impact on environmental protection activities.

In order to attract inward investment Northern Ireland needs to maintain its “clean and green”
image. Businesses will expect high standards in terms of air quality, water supply, status of land to
be occupied (uncontaminated) and waste management.

Similarly, the realisation of the region’s tourism potential relies on the maintenance of
Northern Ireland’s high quality environment. Northern Ireland must compete with other
more experienced tourism destinations, in a European and world wide context. Set against a
background of “the troubles”, in order to first attract tourists and then to achieve repeat
visits, the environmental infrastructure, as well as the product itself, must be of the highest
quality.

Despite the unquestionable value to the region of environmental protection practices
Northern Ireland, in many cases, is severely inhibited from adopting UK and European
practices as a result of its peripherality and lack of critical mass. In terms of waste
management for example, the region is struggling to move towards more sustainable waste
handling and treatment techniques as a result of its peripherality due largely to lack of cost
effectiveness and limited access to materials reprocessing. Landfill remains the least
expensive and most accessible waste management option.

The Waste Management Strategy sets out a programme to address the overwhelming reliance on
 landfill for the disposal of domestic and commercial waste and to promote reuse, recovery and
 recycling. There is also a need for the further rehabilitation of lands contaminated by industrial
 processes and waste disposal.




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There is a widespread problem of nutrient enrichment of water bodies, particularly of Lough
Neagh and Lough Erne. Several rivers have been identified for urgent action to improve their
chemical and biological quality. Action is required both to reduce eutrophication from
diffuse agricultural sources and to improve effluent quality from certain sewage treatment
works. There have also been problems with the quality of certain drinking water supplies
that must be addressed.




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