Section 4: Rural Development
Question: What role can the Development Plan play in ensuring that sustainable agricultural production is supported and enhanced?
Supporting Rural Development.
The Development Plan can play a role in ensuring that sustainable agricultural production is supported and enhanced by designing complementary policies in rural tourism and rural diversification industries. This can be achieved by supporting complementary industries. The encouragement of renewable energy generation by groups of landowners is a form of rural diversification that can help increase farm incomes. In some cases, wind farms have supported and tied-in with walking/cycling tracks, thus strengthening local tourism and recreational amenities. There are a number of existing walkways and treks that could be further developed e.g. the South Leinster Way. In addition, renewable energy providers bring ‘community gain’ in the form of regular financial contributions to rural community clubs and organisations. Investment in local projects strengthens rural communities and the provision of additional amenities can make a valuable contribution towards the long term sustainability of the area. Generally wind farms have been very supportive of rural communities.
ART Generation has experience, in conjunction with landowners and state agencies such as Coillte, in structuring community benefit schemes to provide financial support to local clubs and organisations or to ensure access for public amenities such as walking trails or other tourist facilities. This has resulted in a positive experience of wind farm development in the host communities and encouragement for further projects.