Summary of Measures
NI Rural Development Programme 2007-13
The European Union has set three main themes within which all Member States are to focus their Rural Development Programmes. These themes (known as axes) are:
; Axis 1 - Improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry by supporting
restructuring, development and innovation
; Axis 2 - Improving the environment and countryside by supporting land
; Axis 3 - Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging
diversification of economic activity
They also require at least part of all Rural Development Programmes to be delivered through a “LEADER-type approach” – under the NI Rural Development Programme
2000-06, numerous partnerships delivered parts of the Programme within their own geographical area.
The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-13 (the “NIRDP”) contains
a number of measures under each axis. These measures are specific areas where support is to be targeted. Each measure was selected from a menu of options provided by the European Union in order to target the aspects of rural life that are most important to Northern Ireland.
Under axis 1 (Improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry) there are four measures in the NIRDP:
1.1 Vocational Training and Information Actions
To improve the competitiveness of farm and horticulture businesses in Northern Ireland through the provision of a range of innovative and focused training and information actions. There are four schemes planned to achieve this objective:
(i) a scheme to facilitate benchmarking of farm and horticultural businesses.
(ii) A Focus Farms scheme to promote new technologies and to provide an
opportunity for coaching and/or mentoring
(iii) A Farmily Farm Options scheme that will help farm families to analyse
their current business position and to consider the future
(iv) A scheme to provide training that will promote supply chain partnerships
1.2 Adding Value to Agriculture and Forestry Products Improving Marketing Capability
To improve the economic performance and international competitiveness of the agri-food and forestry processing sectors.
There are two schemes within this measure:
(i) the Agricultural and Forestry Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme
will provide support towards capital expenditure on buildings and new
equipment, the cost of a business plan/feasibility study for the project,
and directly related general costs
(ii) the Agricultural and Forestry Marketing Development Grant Scheme will
provide support for businesses engaged in the marketing of agricultural,
horticultural and forestry produce.
1.3 Modernisation of Agricultural Holdings
To contribute to the competitiveness of agricultural and horticultural businesses in Northern Ireland. There are two schemes under this measure:
(i) A farm modernisation scheme will be available to farmers who wish to
improve their farm’s competitiveness. For example, this could be through
use of new technologies or improved energy efficiency.
(ii) A short rotation coppice scheme will provide support for farms that wish
to establish of short rotation coppice crops.
1.4 Supply Chain Development Programme
To increase the number of successful new collaborative initiatives in the agri-food and forestry sectors which lead to more effective and sustainable supply chains and to compare farm and horticulture businesses through benchmarking. This scheme is aimed at primary producers in the agri-food and forestry sectors co-operating with each other and with partners further along their respective supply chains, for example processors, retailers and other end users.
Under axis 2 (Improving the environment and countryside) there are four measures in the NIRDP:
2.1 Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowances
The Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowances Scheme aims to improve the environment and the countryside through effective land management. The Scheme will provide support for farmers by compensating them for additional costs and income
foregone related to maintaining agricultural production in Less Favoured Areas. The European Commission is to conduct a full review of this area of support in 2009.
2.2 Agri-Environment Programme
The Agri-Environment Programme has three main aims:
(a) To support sustainable development of rural areas and to respond to
increasing public demand for environmental services;
(b) To introduce or to continue to apply agricultural production methods
compatible with the protection and improvement of the environment, the
landscape and its features, natural resources, the soil and genetic
(c) To encourage and support agricultural production methods which protect
and improve the quality of rivers and lakes, and contribute to the
mitigation of and adaptation to the impact of climate change.
These aims are to be met through two Schemes:
(i) The Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme will enable
participants who enter into voluntary seven year commitments to receive
financial support for the environmentally sensitive management of all
their land as well as the management or creation of habitats or features
on the farm
(ii) The Organic Farming Scheme will provide financial support during
conversion of land from conventional to organic management.
Participants are required to adhere to environmental and animal welfare
conditions that are more rigorous than those applying to non-organic
2.3 First Afforestation
This measure is to support afforestation and encourage an increase rate of new planting through two schemes:
(i) The Woodland Grant Scheme will support the establishment costs of first
afforestation on both agricultural and non-agricultural land with 70% of
aid will be paid at establishment with the balance in five years. It also
offers support for the first establishment of agro-forestry systems
combining extensive agriculture and forestry systems.
(ii) The Farm Woodland Premium Scheme will provide annual payments for
up to a maximum of 15 years for agricultural income foregone as a result
of first afforestation on agricultural land under the Woodland Grant
2.4 Forest Environments
This measure aims to:
(a) secure significant environmental benefits through the enhancement of
(b) improve the public amenity of woodlands while preserving high value
forest ecosystems by reinforcing the protective value of forests in respect
of soil, water and natural hazards.
(c) assist in achieving the expansion, maintenance, enhancement or
restoration targets set out in the native woodland Habitat Action Plans, or
benefits to the habitats of those woodland species covered by the
Species Action Plan.
These aims will be delivered through the Sustainable Forestry Operations Grant Scheme where support will be available for participants who make a voluntary commitment to undertake agreed forest-environment actions to improve the ecosystems within private forests and woodlands and prevent damage by domestic and wild animals.
Support may be provided under a Woodland Environment Grant for one-off financial commitments to achieve environmental objectives or to enhance the public amenity value of existing forests but which do not lead to any significant increase in the value or profitability of the forestry holding
Under Axis 3 (Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity), all of the schemes below will be delivered at a local level by Local Action Groups. Each Group will then choose how it wishes to allocate its funding across the following six measures, in line with the specific needs of their local area:
3.1 Diversification into non-agricultural activities
This measure aims to assist farm households to diversify into non-agricultural activities and, as a consequence, maintain or increase the income of the farm households and create employment opportunities
3.2 Support for Business Creation and Development
This measure aims to create employment opportunities through promoting entrepreneurship and developing the economic infrastructure in rural areas by providing support to existing micro enterprises or to persons wishing to set up a new micro-enterprise in a non-agricultural sector.
3.3 Encouragement of Tourism Activities
This measure aims to use the natural resources in Northern Ireland’s rural areas to attract visitors and create new employment opportunities through the sustainable development of the rural economy by providing support to existing rural tourism enterprises or to persons wishing to set up a new sustainable rural tourism enterprise.
3.4 Basic Services for the Economy and Rural Population
This measure aims to improve or maintain the living conditions and welfare of those living in rural areas and to increase the attractiveness of such areas through the provision of more and better basic services for the economy and the rural population. This will be achieved through supporting the improvement of basic services in rural areas, including cultural and leisure activities and related small-scale infrastructure. Support will be provided towards the costs of identifying needs and providing basic services for rural dwellers.
3.5 Village renewal and development
In order to support integrated village initiatives which promote community development and regeneration, this Measure will support animation and capacity building within and between villages and their surrounding rural areas in the formulation of integrated action plans to define the role of the village and fully develop the potential of villages and their surrounding areas.
3.6 Conservation and Upgrading the Rural Heritage
To use the natural resources in Northern Ireland’s rural areas to create new
employment opportunities and develop the rural economy through supporting local village initiatives to preserve and upgrade their rural heritage. Support will be provided through:
; Grant aid towards the costs of capital and resource investment which have been
assessed by appropriate heritage services.
; Marketing support to raise awareness of cultural and environmental heritage by
interpretation and support actions, especially among young people.
; Bespoke training intrinsic to individual project applications under this measure
which is not on offer from any other provider
; Technical support to assist business start ups or help new businesses become
established and to help existing businesses to consolidate and expand