€9.8m WLD funding to boost Co Wexford
200 businesses and community groups in the county have brought forward funding proposals to Wexford Local Development (WLD) after the body was provisionally awarded around €10m in Leader funding to develop the county earlier this year.
The new programme covers the entire county, whereas in the past Wexford town was excluded.
Up to €10m in funding has been allocated to WLD for the coming five years and a public consultation process ahead of the establishment of a business plan is beginning this Autumn in the county's four urban centres.
A European Union grant of €220m has been approved for the country for the period 2015-2020 and Wexford's share is due to be in the region of €9.84m.
CEO of WLD Brian Kehoe said Phil Hogan created a local community development committee partnership between Wexford Local Development and Wexford County Council to progress entrepreneurial and community projects and initiatives in the county. Mr Kehoe said: 'It's a two way partnership based on preferred government policy. €220m was announced and you have to put in your strategy and proposal for the delivery of the programme. We are in the process of putting together a strategy to be approved and then we can start the programme. In order to secure this funding allocation, Wexford LCDC must now prepare a robust, high quality and representative local development strategy (LDS).' He said no works will begin until early next year.
One of the projects which is expected to seek funding under the programme is Duncannon Fort which was closed in May to facilitate electrical and structural works being carried out on site.
Mr Kehoe said unlike with previous WLD funding policies, there will be tighter deadlines for applying in future.
'Each project stands on its own merits. It has to be eligible. We don't fund retail, but we've spent about €3m on tourism projects in the county, like at Loftus Hall and Wells House in recent years. It has been very successful for us. There are a whole raft of projects we have supported. We hope to submit our business plan in October but the council will ultimately put the plan in place.'
During the consultation process, individuals, community groups and companies can bring forward their requests. 'We're looking at big picture stuff. We get a constant stream of enquiries which will inform our strategic project.'
Mr Kehoe said the 200 enquiries have come in over the past 18 months. 'There is a budget for County Wexford and we have to put forward an informed business plan to secure that.'