EU Experts attend Edinburgh Rural Fair

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Rural Scotland demonstrated its merits on an international stage today with the opening of the 2010 EU Rural Cooperation Fair at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

Rural Scotland demonstrated its merits on an international stage today with the opening of the 2010 EU Rural Cooperation Fair at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

Minister for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham welcomed over 270 local rural development practitioners from 23 EU Member States to the event to share their experience of developing rural communities in the face of economic challenge.

Ms Cunningham said:

“I’m delighted to welcome so many of Europe’s rural development experts to the EU Rural Cooperation Fair in Edinburgh.

“It’s the first time that the Scottish National Rural Network has hosted a major event in partnership with the European Network for Rural Development, and a clear recognition of our commitment to build strong, sustainable rural communities.

“Building on the success of last year’s Rural Gathering in Perth, this is a fantastic opportunity for people living and working across rural Europe to forge partnerships that will help our communities to thrive and prosper as we climb out of recession.

“Yesterday, statistics were released which help paint a picture of life in rural Scotland. They tell us that the majority of rural residents enjoy the safety and friendliness of their community and that volunteering is commonplace in rural Scotland. In fact, 48 per cent of people in remote rural areas volunteer, compared with 34 per cent in accessible rural areas and 26 per cent in the rest of Scotland.

“To safeguard these vibrant rural communities we must invest in them, empower them, create new employment opportunities and encourage diversification. On August 3 the Scottish Government showed its support for empowering local communities by providing an additional £13.3 million to Scotland’s LEADER programme. This enables Local Action Groups to take greater responsibility in supporting local development plans and community facility projects.

“LEADER can, and does, contribute to the creation of new jobs. Reports show that our Local Action Groups (LAGs) should create or preserve some 480 jobs across Scotland through local funding. It’s proof that investment in our local rural communities can really bear fruit.

“I hope that this event will kick-start some dynamic cooperation projects to help develop sustainable rural communities in these financially challenging times and beyond.”

LEADER is a delivery funding mechanism under the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

Worth over £50 million, it aims to increase the capacity of local rural community and business networks to build knowledge and skills and encourage innovation and co-operation in order to tackle local development objectives. Funding is awarded by Local Action Groups (LAGs) who aim to implement a local development plan and take decisions on projects which are community driven and have a wide community benefit.

These LAGs are a partnership made up of representatives from:

  • local council
  • Local Enterprise Company
  • business people
  • public agencies
  • voluntary action groups
  • community groups

The SRDP is worth some £1.5 billion in total, and is designed to develop rural Scotland from 2007 to 2013. Individuals and groups may seek funding from the programme to help deliver the Government’s strategic objectives in rural Scotland.