The Rural Development Programme (2007-2013) : It contains grant aid support widely known as the LEADER programme - is involved in developing measures to encourage enterprise and employment and improve the quality of life of people in rural areas. It is funded by the EU and the Dept of Environment,Community and Local Government. Local jobs and enterprises are essential to the survival and growth of rural areas. The LEADER grant aid is available to support enterprise under the following priority headings: • Farm diversification into non-agricultural activities; • Enterprise Creation and Development; • Encouragement and development of tourism activities; • Provision of basic services for the economy and rural population; • Village renewal and development; • Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage with an emphasis on the rural environment; • Relevant training, research and information initiatives. The provision of funding to the above priority areas should lead to: • Diversification of the economy of rural areas with increased rural based employment opportunities; • Encouragement of tourism based on development of natural resources and development of the cultural and natural heritage; • Enhancement of the viability of farming enterprises through on-farm diversification and off-farm employment; • Enhancement and protection of the natural environment and landscape; • Enhancement of the quality of life of rural dwellers and communities by the provision of basic services. Mayo North East’s vision is of a programme harnessing the potential of the local people, local resources and innovation to create viable sustainable jobs in the area while making Mayo North East an attractive place to live and visit with a high quality of life. Over the course of the Rural Development Programme, over €10.75m has been earmarked for the Mayo North East area. Who is eligible to apply for RDP funding? Individuals or a community group with a business idea that wish to set up a viable rural enterprise Rural Businesses wishing to sustain their activities, expand or diversify Farm Families wishing to diversify into non-agricultural activities; Community Groups promoting community enterprise, local amenity projects or community services; Voluntary Organisations or special interest groups promoting social, cultural and environmental projects; Partnerships promoting inter territorial, interregional or transnational projects in collaboration with other organisation, this can include Mayo North East. Evaluation Criteria for RDP Projects: The following criteria will be applied in assessing applications for grant aid. 1. Eligibility Does the project comply with eligibility criteria as set out in the RDP Operating Rules? 2. Innovation Is there something new about the project in terms of the product or idea, the technology/production method, the market, the promoter, or the location? 3 . Deadweight Does the project require RDP funding to proceed? 4. Displacement/Competition Will the project be in direct competition with an existing local business and could it result in displacement of jobs elsewhere? 5. Promoter Background/Skills What is the Promoter’s track record and have they the skills and experience necessary to make a success of the project? 6. Market research Has the project been adequately researched? Has the need/market/demand for the project been firmly established? 7. Marketing Plan Is there an adequate marketing or promotion plan in place for the project? 8. Financial Viability Can the project demonstrate its financial viability in the medium to long term? 9. Sustainability Will the project be sustainable in the long term? 10. Job Creation Will the project result in job creation - full time, seasonal or part time? Or will existing jobs be sustained/ secured by this new project? 11. Impact/Benefits What benefit will the project have for the Promoter, the wider community or the environment? 12. Added Value Is there added value from the project for the overall development of the county? Funding limits and grant rates: RDP funding is not intended for large scale projects and in general a ceiling of €150,000 grant-aid per project will apply. Exceptional community projects may qualify for a higher grant but require prior written approval from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. The maximum grant amount for Analysis & Development projects is 90% to a maximum of €30,000 and 75% for capital projects for both community and private projects. Training projects may receive 100% funding. Project Eligibility Eligible costs for grant applications include; Construction and renovation costs; purchase of machinery & equipment; marketing/Promotion; publications; training; analysis & Development. Please contact Mayo North East to discuss eligibility criteria. Making an Application For Grant Aid: In the first instance it is important to meet with and talk to Mayo North East staff who will advise you on the likely eligibility of your project and the steps to be taken in making an application. Staff will then work with you to develop and finalise your proposal. An official Grant Application Form must be completed and this should be submitted along with all of the support documentation outlined on the accompanying check-list to Mayo North East. Your application will be acknowledged in writing; this acknowledgement should not be taken as an indication that grant-aid will be awarded to your project. All applications will go through an evaluation process with recommendations made to the Board of Mayo North East who then make a decision. Work should not commence on your project until you have been issued a contract and you have signed and returned it contract to Mayo North East. Any work undertaken or equipment purchased prior to formal notification and acceptance of a grant offer is not eligible for grant-aid. APPEALS PROCEDURE RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME 2007-2013: If a project promoter is dissatisfied with a decision of the Company, they may lodge an appeal. If a request for a review/appeal is lodged, the LAG must inform the promoter of the appeal proceedings that will apply. The appeals procedure is as follows: 1. The project promoter may seek a review of the decision of Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Company. A request for a review must be made in writing within two months of the date of the letter advising of the Company’s decision, and should address the reasons given in that letter for the Company’s decision. Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Company will advise the project promoter in writing of the outcome of that review within two months of the request for review being made. 2. Where a project promoter is dissatisfied with the outcome of the review by Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Company, the project promoters have the right to appeal the decision of the LAG to the Regional Inspector, setting out their case in writing, and including any relevant or supporting information (including any new information). Project promoters must lodge any such appeal within one month of being notified of the outcome of the review by Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Company. 3. The Regional Inspector will notify project promoter of the outcome of the appeal within two months of the receipt of the appeal. This notification will outline the reasons for the decision of the Regional Inspector. This decision will be the final decision of the Department. The Regional Inspector will only review the decision of the LAG in respect of: 1. The process and procedures followed by the LAG in coming to the original decision and in performing the review. 2. The LAG’s interpretation of the relevant national/EU regulatory requirements