MOYLE Council have spoken out following remarks from a farming chief about the way they use Rural Development funding.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union had expressed concern that current Rural Development Programme (RDP) funds are being seen as an “easy” option by local councils and are being diverted to fund projects that the UFU say should actually be covered by local council budgets.
UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “It was our concern from the outset that Rural Development Programme (RDP) funds would be diverted away from their intended purpose and would instead be used to substitute funding that should have come from elsewhere.
“This appears to be exactly what is happening. It is especially disappointing to see funds being transferred away from some measures within the RDP leaving genuinely viable private sector projects unfunded. I can understand re-allocating funds that are uncommitted but only as a last resort and certainly not while there are genuine applications outstanding.
“North East Region is one example where RDP funds have been moved around to the benefit of local councils. It transferred a total of £1.1million from the £2.5million Micro-Businesses measure, of which £660,000 went to the RDP Tourism measure and £440,000 to the RDP Basic Services measure, leaving many of the applications for the Mirco-Business measure on a reserve list due to insufficient funds.
“It is a strange coincidence that North East Region transferred a substantial amount of Rural Development Programme (RDP) funding between the Mirco-Business and Tourism measures and then Moyle Council was recently awarded almost £400,000 for their own tourism projects. It does suggest that RDP funding is being diverted to cover the cost of projects that should be funded by existing budgets and also raises concerns over the possibility of private enterprise being stifled,” said Mr Sinclairve