Axis 3 Measures

Axis 3 measures are delivered through the so-called LEADER approach.  They are designed to improve the quality of life in rural areas and promote diversification of the rural economy.  This takes place through

  • increasing the economic activity and employment rates in the wider rural community through encouraging on-farm diversification into non-agricultural activities, supporting and creating micro-enterprises,
  • encouraging rural tourism built  sustainable development of natural resources, cultural and natural heritage
  • improving access to basic services for rural dwellers including addressing inadequate recreational facilities,
  • regenerating villages and surrounding areas by improving their economic prospects, maintaining and restoring and upgrading the natural heritage.

The diversification measures seek to create on-farm employment in non-agricultural activities.  It is targeted at all farm households.  The scope of measures are broad and may include

  • the provision of tourism facilities through the renovation of farm buildings for tourism purposes
  • walking, cycling, angling, pony trekking and  bird watching
  • development of niche tourism and educational services such as arts and crafts, speciality food provision and open farms
  • development of farm shops and locally grown and manufactured products.

Rural Enterprise

There is a measure designed for business creation and development.  The object is to provide economic activity of sufficient mass to attract people to live in a work in rural areas.  It includes

  • selected investment in small rural enterprise
  • provision of assistance type for startup enterprises and expansion of existing enterprises
  • development of innovative products and activities,
  • actions to foster rural entrepreneurship

The target groups are all rural dwellers engaged in microenterprises.

Tourism and Culture

The measures for encouragement for tourism activities seek to do the following

  • analyse  and provide the infrastructural needs for tourism and countryside recreation in a defined area
  • maintenance of vernacular features in a way that protects the heritage of the features; this includes disused railways lines, canal paths and bog roads
  • development of the use of forests for countryside recreation
  • development of niche tourism such as arts and crafts, speciality food provision, ecotourism, genealogy, archaeology,
  • development of the use of the Internet and eCommerce for booking, marketing and information services.

It is aimed at all rural dwellers.

There is a measure to identify and provide appropriate leisure and cultural facilities to local communities not available to them.  It is available to all rural dwellers.  It includes

  • the provision for amenity and leisure facilities
  • support for cultural activities,
  • certain art festivals,
  • general community and recreational infrastructure,
  • innovative activities in local communities such as social and information networks.

Capital costs such as the provision of infrastructure, equipment and special supports may be provided.  The relevant local authority may apply for funding at the rate of aid applied to community groups.


The rural broadband reach scheme seeks to secure access to broadband for target premises in rural Ireland to which affordable broadband is not currently available and is unlikely to be available in the future.  Operations supported include creation and enabling access to broadband infrastructure including facilities and equipment, upgrading of existing broadband infrastructure.

The scheme identifies consumers in rural areas who are unable to obtain a broadband service at an affordable price within a reasonable timeframe.  Qualifying applicants must live in rural locations, be located outside areas covered by general broadband schemes and be verified as unserved.

The scheme is designed only to benefit those who are unable to obtain broadband service under normal prevailing market conditions.  The minimum required services include an always-on service and certain minimum speeds.

It is a matter for bidders to identify the most appropriate infrastructure to achieve the aims of the scheme.  This may include wired and wireless solutions, mobile and satellite technology. Once a service provider is selected under a procurement process, it may roll out the scheme.  A charge is made for consumers connected.  Support is given under the scheme.

Village Renewal & Rural Heritage

The village renewal and development measures include

  • environmental upgrading,
  • access facilities to amenities,
  • public utilities such as street lighting, general surface upgrading, farmers markets and other small-scale activities.

The local authority may apply for funding at a rate of aid applied to community groups to carry out measures.  The community group must contribute at least five percent of the total cost.

The measure for upgrading the rural heritage seeks to provide an integrated approach to local heritage through a suite of related preservation actions.  This is complemented by incentives. It includes

  • axes to preserve and develop vernacular architecture, crafts, archaeology and cultural traditions
  • an integrated plan for restoration and development of locally significant natural areas, features of environmental significance
  • community environmental actions to protect and restore the amenity value of local water resources
  • environmental initiatives aimed at waste reduction
  • alternative and renewable energy activities

The relevant local authority may apply for funding at the rate applicable to community groups.


The training information measure seeks to equip rural dwellers and communities with the appropriate skills and training to derive maximum social and economic benefit from the initiatives available under the axis.  This includes

  • provision of general and specialized training courses,
  • provision of flexible learning methods
  • development of training facilities,
  • provision of relevant training courses
  • development of the capacity of rural developers to utilize Internet and broadband access to e-services

The skills acquisition measure seeks to create awareness, understanding and motivation in rural communities to enable full participation in the local development strategy.  Actions include

  • animation activities at the group and  individual levels to encourage community involvement in a range of social and economic activities
  • capacity building measures for  community and minority groups to foster a spirit of social capital and self-help,
  • initiatives aimed at geographically disadvantaged communities or those lacking sufficient mass to enhance cohesion and capacity to develop.
  • initiatives to animate specific interest in marginal groups to harness unique potential.

Local Groups

The process of selecting local groups involves consideration of the business plan followed by the evaluation and final selection of groups for participation in the program.  The procedures are open to all rural areas and existing groups and partnerships.

The selection criteria include coherence of the plan with the nature of the territory, particularly in socioeconomic terms.  It must be

  • economically viable, innovative and sustainable in the sense that the resources will be used in a way so that options available to future generations are not impaired.
  • the degree to which the plan targets support which seeks to enhance job opportunities.
  • the level of business activity demonstrated
  • the rigour and depth of the needs assessment and the detailed links between the needs  assessment process and outcome of local objective setting activities, actions and projects and the relationship with national and EU policies
  • the extent of the commitment, ability and proposed method for establishing on the ground cooperation with other agencies
  • the overall flexibility of the plan with regard to ongoing local needs and policy review
  • group management structure, administrative ability and financial status
  • physical size and population of the territory
  • the degree to which cooperation is integrated into the local development strategy.

This applies to the selection of local action groups.

Rural Water Programme

The Rural Water Programme is administered by the Local Authorities and is comprised of a number of measures to address deficiencies in:
• Group Water and Group Sewerage Schemes;
• Private individual supplies where an alternative group or public supply is not available.

Grants and subsidies, which are designed to bring quality deficient group schemes up to a satisfactory standard, are as follows:

Group Water Schemes

• A grant of 100% of the cost of essential treatment and disinfection facilities is available for schemes participating in bundled Design Build Operate contracts. Other necessary works like buildings, reservoirs, pipelines associated with the contract are grant aided at up to 85% of cost, subject to a maximum grant of €6,475.66 per house;
• Grants of up to 85% of cost subject to a maximum grant of €7,475 per house are available for new Group Water Schemes and grants of up to 85% of cost subject to
a maximum grant of €6,475.66 per house are available for general upgrading of existing Group Water Schemes.

Group Sewerage Schemes

A grant of €6,500 per house or 75% of the overall scheme costs whichever is the lesser is available for Group Sewerage Schemes.

Subsidy towards the operational costs of Group Water Schemes
The amount of subsidy will be 100% of the qualifying expenditure as approved by the Local Authority, subject to a limit of:
• € 40.00 per annum for each house supplied from an Irish Water Main;
• €95.00 per annum for each house supplied from a private source.

Separate subsidies are also available towards “bona fide” Operational and Maintenance (O and M) costs associated with Design/Build/Operate (DBO) contracts for group schemes that have their own water treatment facilities. Details are available from County Councils.

Individual Water Supplies

Grants are available for the provision or improvement of individual supplies in houses more than 7 years old, which are not connected to either a public or group scheme water supply. The maximum household grant is €2,031.58 subject to a maximum of 75% of the cost.

• Application Forms and Explanatory Memoranda governing the conditions of these schemes are available by contacting the Rural Water Programme Liaison Officer at your local County Council.

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation


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