PoliRural Final Project Consortium Meeting

PoliRural consortium has gathered in 7 and 8 September to conduct the project final meeting. The meeting took place in Agriculture University of Athens, in Greece.

The meeting focused on the presentation and discussion of project final results and overall impact, including a WP status update. The meeting also included the presentation of PoliRural pilot’s results:

Participation in the discussion “The house is looking for the owner”

Latvian Rural Forum initiated discussion as one of events during 8th Conversation Festival LAMPA, which brought together around 19 000 people in Cēsis city in Vidzeme. Discussion was also streamed online.

The rural areas becoming less and less populated – that was the narrative that has dominated Latvia for at least a couple of decades. Finding and buying property in the countryside at the same time has become a real challenge. According to the analyses conducted by Latvian Rural Forum within PoliRural, the unavailability of housing is one of the biggest obstacles faced by those people, who consider moving to the countryside.

Different perspectives and aspects were brought up by panelists – Mr. Mārtiņš Auders, director of the Housing Policy Department of the Ministry of Economy, Mr. Ainārs Balcers, co-chairman of the Crediting Committee of the Financial Industry Association, Mr. Kārlis Menģelis, LVKV Real Estate, head of the Cēsis office, Mr. Pēteris Pētersons, head of the Kārķu parish administration of Valka region and Mrs. Zane Zaičeva, newcomer in Rauna parish, Vidzeme.

The most important obstacle which was defined during discussion is lack of finances for those who are willing to move to countryside. Even though there is a support system available for some groups, like new families, new specialists, it is still a problem for others. The positive aspects were highlighted, as there are new support systems created from the State support instruments. The second obstacle most of panelists mentioned is lack of the available properties.

Some suggestions that have emerged are the following: there is need for further discussion between involved parties to make the financial support more available for those who would like to buy property in country side; develop a specific housing policy for rural areas; municipalities should be more actively involved in informing citizens about available properties, auctions.

At the end, participants agreed that this is just a beginning for further discussions on this topic to ensure that rural attractiveness is fulfilled also in the practice, when deciding to move to rural areas.

In addition to the discussion, Latvian Rural Forum created a photo exhibition of 10 newcomers from the PoliRural New Entrant Atlas, whose stories inspired the participants of the discussion and were available to all participants of the Conversation Festival.

The Experience of New Entrants moving to PoliRural pilot Monaghan

The Monaghan PoliRural pilot Foresight Action Plan aims to achieve Ireland’s highest county-proportion of non-traditional new entrants and young farmers in rural Monaghan by 2030, through locally orchestrated and implemented rural development policies and supports that actively encourage young people, women, and families to move to, or remain in the region.

But what is the rural attractiveness of Monaghan for newcomers now?

A survey of 41 new entrants to Monaghan carried out by Monaghan Integrated Development (MID) in February 2022, found that work attracted 24% of them to live and work in the county, but over 70% were attracted by its people (family and relationships). While most readily adapted to life in Monaghan (83% plan to stay), they found accommodation/housing to be expensive, but enjoyed the beautiful rural countryside, friendly community and people who are kind, innovative and industrious.

There is a great sense of pride in the county and those living in it mostly benefit from its peaceful, historic, and natural beauty. However, “it rains a lot”, “can be dull”, “quiet”, “remote”, and “lonely”. Many appreciated Monaghan’s central location between Dublin and Belfast north of the border, but feel that the region is underdeveloped, has limited public transport and infrastructure, and most rural areas are distant from amenities, services, and beaches. While there are a variety of work opportunities in Monaghan, they are not well paid, and offer “little opportunity for growth”. However, the growth in remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic now provides major opportunities for diversification of the rural economy and the provision of well-paid jobs for educated and qualified people, but broadband access is limited.

To improve the attractiveness of life in rural Monaghan, they suggested improved leisure facilities, enhanced greenways, better public transport, more broadband in rural areas for remote/hybrid workers and more high-income jobs, as well as more community involvement in local governance. These have been incorporated into Monaghan’s Action Plan.