A number of very good development opportunities that could potentially provide long term sustainable sources of income for rural communities in South Kerry were identified during a tour of the region by more than 100 overseas delegates last week. The delegates from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Wales & Germany were taking part in the 4 day INTERREG Rural Alliances Conference organised by South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd., one of the 12 partners in the project.

Among the ideas put forward by the group was an community backed energy project, the redevelopment of an old mill to provide commercial and community facilities as well as much additional development that could be undertaken around existing facilities in areas such as Valentia for example. Delegates were also greatly impressed with the range and accessibility of walking trails in the county and feel that much potential exists with these facilities to generate much needed additional income sources for the region.

Rural Alliances Project Manager Seán de Buitléar said delegates gave a very positive feedback on the region overall and see many opportunities for the civil society groups to develop sustainable projects that will ensure they are vibrant regions to live and work in for the future. “They were delighted to have the chance to offer their opinions on what they saw as the potential development opportunities in the region and have offered to assist groups with this work in the future” he said. “Many of these delegates are involved with or working with similar civil society groups in their own rural regions and are encountering similar problems such as depopulation and a lack of economic opportunities” Seán pointed out. “The opportunity to learn and benefit from our overseas partners is a key benefit of being involved in a cross nation project such as Rural Alliances and we will now be working to build and develop the links established through this visit” Seán concluded.

It is estimated that the conference was worth in region of €50,000 to the South Kerry area over the 4 days of the event and it is expected that many delegates will return to the area in the future through both the Rural Alliances project but also in a personal capacity on holiday.

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