LEADER is a European Community Initiative for assisting rural communities in improving the quality of life and economic prosperity in their local area. The Leader approach, also known as Priority 6, is not a separate fund or set of objectives. Instead, it is a delivery mechanism through which money allocated to the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 can be spent.

What is LEADER?

Priority 6 or LEADER is the way that decisions are made about what projects are funded under the Priority 6 Schemes.  The decisions are made by local people about their own areas based on the premise that they are the ones who know best what their local area needs and what projects will best fill that need. The aim of the Leader approach is to increase the capacity of local rural community and business networks to build knowledge and skills, innovate and co-operate in order to tackle local development objectives.

To make this possible Priority 6 set up ten Local Action Groups (LAGs) to deliver the LEADER Schemes on behalf of the department. LAGs are voluntary and are made up of local government representatives and social partners.

Each LAG has been allocated a rural development budget to enable them to pursue the strategic objective set out in the Local Rural Development Strategy they compiled for the area they represent.  They are permitted to spend up to 22% of the value of their projects on administration.

What can I get funding for? - the LEADER Schemes

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas by supporting a wide range of projects including:

Rural Business Investment Scheme

Support for investments in creation and development of non-agricultural micro and small business activities.

Further information:

Rural Basic Services Scheme

Support for investments in the setting up, improvement or expansion of local basic services for the rural population including leisure and culture, and the related infrastructure.

Rural Broadband Scheme

Support for community lead broadband infrastructure, including its creation, improvement and expansion, passive broadband infrastructure and provision of access to broadband and public e-government.

Village Renewal Scheme

Support for drawing up and updating of plans for the development of municipalities and villages in rural areas and their basic services and of protection and management plans relating to Natura 2000 sites and other areas of high nature value.

The LEADER Schemes under Priority 6 of the approved Rural Development Programme will be delivered by Local Action Groups (LAGs) on behalf of DARD. Get the details for the LAG in your area below.

How do I find out more? - Information for prospective applicants

LEADER is delivered on behalf of the Department by ten Local Action Groups (LAGs) there is one LAG for each new council area except rural Belfast which is covered by Lisburn.  LAGs will assist an applicant through all aspects of the application process from attending a funding workshops before making an application through to submitting claims and checking targets have been achieved after the project is complete.

You may still apply to the programme if you have had European funding before, however you need to be aware of the State aid/De minimis rules that apply.

LEADER Delivery Body (LAG) Information

DAERA contact points:
General Queries: RDDLeader@daera-ni.gov.uk

LAG DARD Local Office address Phone
  • Ards & North Down Rural Enterprise
  • SOAR (ABC)
  • Mourne Gullion & Lecale
Glenree House
Carnbane Industrial Estate
BT35 6EF
028 3025 3256
  • Mid & East Antrim Local Action Group
  • Causeway Coast & Glens Local Action Group
  • GROW South Antrim
  • Lagan Rural Partnership
121a Broughshane Street
BT43 6HY
028 2566 4768
  • Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership
  • Fermanagh & Omagh Local Action Group
  • Mid Ulster Rural Development Partnership
3rd Floor
Sperrin House
Sedan Avenue
BT79 7AQ
028 8225 3507

Operating rules and guidance documents

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