Headlines: March 10th, 2010

Policy makers and others from Britain and Ireland will gather in Belfast today to share best practice and learning in delivering the current round of rural development programmes. They are attending the first UK National Rural Network conference.

Over the next two days the delegates will look in detail at rural development in practice and hear from a range of speakers drawn from the various rural networks across Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They will be joined by representatives from the European Network for Rural Development.

The conference has been devised for people who are actively involved in the delivery of Rural Development Programmes. Rebecca Frost, from the Rural Development Programme for England, hailed the significance of the event and pointed out that the programmes for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were worth in excess of 6.7 billion pounds to the UK rural economy. This huge investment would contribute to many aspects of rural life, including food and farming, the environment, rural tourism, business, services and village renewal.

She added: “It represents the first integrated single rural fund programme in the UK and offers a variety of opportunities and measures in support of rural development. This conference is designed to bring together the key delivery stakeholders of these rural development programmes to enable the sharing and networking of practice with the ultimate objective of helping to ensure that the programmes can make a real and tangible difference to rural life and rural people.”