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Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA has visited two rural businesses which have received just under £50,000 in support from DAERA’s Rural Micro Business Growth Scheme and the Rural Business Investment Scheme.

On a solar farm near Cookstown, the Minister met Samuel Knox and David Woodend, Directors of Kann O&M Ltd, which is based outside Broughshane, Co. Antrim. The services provided by Kann O&M Ltd include the electrical maintenance of High Voltage plant and Solar panels, as well as ground works and cleaning of solar panels to ensure optimal yield. Kann O&M Ltd received financial assistance of £19,425 from the Rural Micro Business Growth Scheme to purchase a Tractor Mounted Automated Wet Wash Brush System to clean solar panels.

Minister Poots said: “The Rural Micro Business Growth Scheme and the Rural Business Investment Scheme have proved successful in helping many rural businesses to grow and expand. I am delighted to have the opportunity to see how this support has helped two such businesses in Antrim and Mid-Ulster.

"Kann O&M Ltd received financial support totalling £19,425 under the NI Rural Development Programme. This investment services an industry which is making a positive contribution to our environment and the mechanised service will improve productivity and efficiency for both Kann O&M Ltd and the solar farms. I wish them every success for the future.”

Minister Poots continued to Sperrin View Glamping, located on the foothills of the Sperrin’s and based in Beaghmore, outside Cookstown. Sperrin View Glamping received financial assistance of £30,000 from DAERA’s Rural Business Investment Scheme towards the purchase of glamping pods.

The Minister met Yvette and Michael Quinn at Sperrin View Glamping. The site consists of four glamping pods which have specifically manufactured viewing windows and provides a unique experience of lying under the Dark Sky, which the area is renowned for.

Minister Poots said: “It was positive to hear from Yvette and Michael of how funding of £30,000 from DAERA’s Rural Business Investment Scheme enabled them to expand their business through the purchase of four additional glamping pods. With more people considering a staycation this year Sperrin View Glamping will be in a position to attract more tourists to the Mid Ulster area, offering the unique opportunity to sleep under Northern Ireland’s only accredited Dark Sky through the specifically manufactured viewing windows.

“This investment has the potential to complement my Department’s investment in rural tourism in the Mid Ulster area. Tourism is vitally important to our rural economy and it is important that we invest in infrastructure that will help attract more visitors to Northern Ireland and encourage them to stay longer.

“I would like to thank Sperrin View Glamping for their hospitality and I wish them every success in the future.”

Cllr Sean Clarke, Vice Chair of Mid Ulster Rural Development Partnership, said: “Under the LAG’s Rural Business Investment Scheme we have approved £2.83m in funding to 95 rural based businesses across Mid Ulster which has helped these business expand and grow. There are many barriers faced by rural businesses which impact on their ability to prosper but with the help of funding assistance through the Rural Development Programme many have been able to invest in innovative business ideas which will make them more productive and competitive. Sperrin View Glamping is a great example of how LEADER funding works to encourage new businesses in rural areas and we wish Michael and Yvette every success for the future.”