04/12/2003

Lough Neagh area to receive £3.2m funding support

The Lough Neagh area is to benefit from a funding package of £3.2 million for a major regeneration initiative.

The funding was unveiled today at the formal launch of the Lough Neagh Strategic Fund in the Marina Centre, Ballyronan, Magherafelt. The funding was awarded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under the European Union Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity and will be delivered locally by the Lough Neagh Partnership.

Roy McClenaghan, Deputy Secretary of the Department, welcomed the initiative, he said: "I am delighted to announce the opening of a £3.2 million support programme for rural communities around Lough Neagh.

"The Lough Neagh Strategic Fund will support environmental, economic and social projects, which will assist with the sustainable development and management of this renowned wetland area. I very much hope that this funding will create opportunities to improve tourism, recreation, biodiversity and access to local heritage."

The Lough Neagh Partnership Ltd, which will deliver the Lough Neagh Strategic Fund, comprises of representation from local authorities, statutory and community organisations, as well as stakeholders with a particular interest in the Lough.

Peter O’Hagan, Chairman of the Lough Neagh Partnership added: "Lough Neagh is without doubt one of Northern Ireland’s greatest natural resources. The launch of the Lough Neagh Strategic fund and the setting up of the Lough Neagh Partnership provides a structure that will ensure that more people will visit, use and benefit from what the Lough has to offer."

The Lough Neagh Strategic Fund is open to the public, private, community and voluntary sectors with applications for grants available through the EU Structural Funds application website, www.eugrants.org.

(MB)

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