19 April 2014

Rural development funding takes off in the North West


Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has said that rural development funding is creating a wealth of tourism opportunities. 


The Minister was visiting the Ulster Gliding Club (UGC) in Bellerana, Limavady to officially open its new visitor centre. The Club received funding from the Rural Development Programme (RDP) amounting to £68,150 to build the visitor centre and to make improvements to the Club’s facilities for those users with a disability.

The Club has been providing short flights from Magilligan Strand since 1933 and now almost eighty years later their passion for flying is still as strong as ever.

Speaking after enjoying her first flight in a glider, the Minister said: “This new centre will improve the overall experience for members, increase visitor numbers, enhance the experience for the Club’s disabled members and turns the facility into a modern tourism attraction. The UGC have spent significant time and money to attract people from all walks of life to use its facilities, and I firmly belief that this new centre will not only increase membership to the Club, but will also encourage tourists to use the facilities.”

The Club was awarded the funding by Assisting Rural Communities North-West (ARC NW), under RDP’s Axis 3 Measure 3.3 – “Encouragement of tourism activities.”

The Minister explained: “This stream of rural development funding aims to use the natural resources in rural areas to attract visitors and create new employment opportunities the sustainable development of the rural economy. Today’s launch of this new facility is an excellent example of a project which will impact not only across the rural North West, but across the North as a tourist attraction.”

Minister O’Neill also focused on the gathering momentum within Axis 3: “I am very encouraged by the gathering pace of the rollout of Axis 3 of the RDP on the ground, with some £8million committed so far to projects under Measure 3.3 “Encouragement of tourism activities” including £1.2million committed by ARC NW.

“I know that I can rely on the Local Action Groups and local Councils to continue to work hard to deliver Axis 3 for the benefit of all the rural community and my Department will play its part in supporting them.”

Alan McKillen, Chairperson of Ulster Gliding Club commented: “After 80 years in operation, this is a very exciting day for our club. We are delighted to welcome the Minister, dignitaries and other special guests to our fantastic new visitor centre, and their presence today is testimony of the belief and support they have in our project.”

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and over this period is worth £500million to the north.

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