Plaid's Rural affairs minister Elin Jones has announced that projects in Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Caerphilly will receive a total of £6,338,000 from a joint Assembly and European Union fund. This is part of the Rural Development Plan for Wales which supports a variety of projects involving agriculture, forestry, the environment and countryside, as well as projects that are aimed at improving life in rural areas and local development programmes.
Monmouthshire received the largest amount of money, with £2.97 million split between eight different projects, including £565,064 for Origins Monmouthshire, which works to repair and renovate key heritage buildings and sites across the county. Some £311,642 has gone to to Welcome Monmouthshire, which is trying to improve Monmouthshire's competitiveness as a year round tourist destination. A visit Britain Report has revealed that some £8 million pound was spent by foreign tourists in Monmouthshire in 2009.
Two projects in Torfaen will share £718,000, including £429,064 for the redevelopment of Llanyrafon Manor, the Grade II* listed manor house will undergo a £536,000 restoration and adaptation into a rural heritage centre. Once this work is finished, the centre will work in partnership with local schools to teach children about Torfaen's natural heritage, as well as providing costumed tours of the house, re-enactment events and outdoor theatre performances. Taste of Torfaen was awarded £289,155 to support local food producers and artists, as well as encouraging alternative energy sources and recycling. One million pound was spent in Torfaen by foreign tourists in 2009, according to Visit Britain.
In Caerphilly, £2.65 million will be split between five projects, including £756, 000 for a Vibrant Villages, Healthy Harvests initiative, which will encourage local farms and other rural businesses to venture into sustainable energy production, support local food producers to get their goods into local markets, and encourage residents to attend more community events. According to Visit Britain some £2 million pound was spent in Caerphilly by foreign tourists in 2009.
One of the key themes behind funding the projects is that project ideas are run with the help of local people, who are well placed to decide what their communities actually need to improve their local environment, boost their economy and help to develop tourism. More of the same please...