Rural Development Programme - LEADER 2014-2020

LEADER is a community led approach to local development funded through Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. It supports locally identified initiatives that seek to address locally identified needs and challenges. It is delivered in each region by a Local Action Group (LAG). In County Westmeath this is Westmeath Local Community Development Committee (WLCDC) in partnership with Westmeath County Council (WCC) as the Financial Partner and Westmeath Community Development Ltd (WCD) as the Implementing Partner. WCD provides direct support to potential applicants seeking funds under the LEADER Programme.

LEADER 2014-2020 covers the geographically area of County of Westmeath, funding of €7,384,205 will cover a number of themes outlined in the Westmeath Local Development Strategy for the duration of the programme. The Programme includes a number of themes and sub themes that reflect the overarching needs of rural Ireland.


Leader 2020

Theme 1: Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job creation.

Theme 1 focuses on driving continued local economic development, including diversification of the rural economy and the creation for employment opportunities for the local community, including those from disadvantaged groups. 


1.1          Rural Tourism

Rural Tourism provides a stimulus for enterprise and job creation. Interventions under this sub theme shall focus on actions that have the potential to make the county more attractive to tourists with a focus on improving the tourism product, marketing the product and improving the capacity of private providers and communities to develop and deliver tourism services. 

Actions will include:

  • Support for the development of water-based tourism on the county’s lakes, rivers and along the Royal Canal.
  • Support for development of outdoor recreation activities and amenity areas capitalising on the County’s wealth of natural resources.
  • Support for the development of Heritage Attractions and Facilities
  • Animation, training, mentoring and marketing supports to the Tourism Sector.

1.2          Enterprise Development

The objective under the Enterprise Development sub-theme will be to develop and enhance the SME sector in consultation and collaboration with Westmeath LEO with a focus on the provision of capital and other supports to the artisan food and craft sectors and creative industries and by supporting innovation including the development of the renewable energy sector and diversification into non-agricultural activities by farmers.

Actions will include:

  • To further develop the artisan food sector in County Westmeath with a key focus on further expanding and developing the Westmeath Food Network both in terms of the product range and the capacity of its members
  • To increase the numbers of farm family members diversifying into non-agricultural activities.
  • To fund the development of renewable energy projects in the private sector.
  • Support for the development of the Craft sector in Westmeath.
  • Support for the development of the creative industries in Westmeath.

1.3          Rural Towns

The objective for the Rural Towns will be to improve the fabric of Rural Towns and their hinterlands. This will include improvements to streetscapes and the creation of recreational spaces and the re-generation and upgrading of heritage and other buildings for the economic and social benefit of communities living in and around Rural Towns and villages.  

Actions will include:

  • Support for Tidy Town/Village Enhancement Projects
  • Support to stimulate action planning in Rural Towns.
  • Support for improvement of community facilities for social economic, recreational and training activities
  • Support for creation and expansion of new innovative community- led local area promotion initiatives.

1.4          Broadband

Under the Broadband sub-theme the objective is to assist the economic and social development of rural areas in the county through the provision of ICT training and other supports to communities and enterprises.

Actions will include:

  • To assist in the provision of training in ICT for communities
  • To assist in the provision of ICT supports for new and existing businesses

Theme 2: Social Inclusion

This theme focuses on reducing community’s experiences of marginalisation caused by disadvantage and rural isolation.

2.1          Provision of Basic Services Targeted at Hard to Reach Communities

The objective will be to improve access to basic services for people living in disadvantaged and remote areas to counteract social exclusion through the provision of animation, capacity building, training supports and capital grant aid for community and recreational facilities.

Actions will include:

  • The provision of animation, capacity building & training supports for hard to reach communities
  • Support for the provision of sustainable community facilities and services in Hard to Reach communities
  • Support for the provision of recreational infrastructure and facilities for hard to reach communities

2.2          Rural Youth

The Rural Youth objective aims to improve the pathways for rural youth that will lead to employment, better access to services and an improved social structure for young people in the county.

Actions will include:

  • Provision of capital grant aid for the improvement of youth cafes/clubs involved in social, recreational and educational activities for youth.
  • To support the development of young people through training animation and capacity building programmes

Theme 3: Rural Environment

This theme seeks to maximise the potential of environmental actions to contribute to the sustainable development of rural communities. It focuses on utilising the landscape within a local area, its features and natural resources, while simultaneously creating a greater environmental awareness and improving environmental protection.

3.1          Protection and Sustainable use of Water Resources

The objective is to promote, raise awareness and support the protection and water conservation through a community led response that will minimise environmental impact.

Actions will include:

  • Support for Water Conservation Programmes
  • Financial support for Water Conservation Projects

3.2          Protection and Improvement of Local Bio Diversity

The objective is to protect, maintain and enhance local biodiversity in Westmeath. Education and creating awareness around biodiversity will be a key focus. Community groups and volunteer bodies will be encouraged to prepare local biodiversity plans and prepare habitat surveys for their respective areas.

Actions will include:

  • Delivery of Biodiversity Awareness Programme.
  • Promotion and support for Wildflower conservation

3.3          Development of Renewable Energy

The objective here will be to promote the efficient and rationale use of energy and to increase the use of renewable energy by both community groups and individuals.

Actions will include:

  • To implement a Renewable Energy Education and Information Programme
  • Support for the improvement of community facilities through use of Renewable Energy