Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000, as amended, provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect architectural heritage, including thatched buildings, by including them on the Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. The architectural conservation officer in the local authority will generally be able to advise of funding available for conservation works to thatched buildings in the area in question and it is advisable for interested parties to remain in contact with their local authority on an on-going basis.
A number of State financial supports provide for the conservation and preservation of heritage structures in general.
In 2014 my Department made available a fund of €5 million under the Built Heritage and Jobs Leverage Scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012. This scheme, which is operated and administered by the local authorities, has included works to 59 thatched structures nationally. I understand that the structure in question is not currently listed on Galway County Council’s Record of Protected Structures and is not, therefore, eligible for funding under this scheme.
The Heritage Council, which my Department also funds, administers a heritage management community grants scheme. Whilst I understand that applications have closed for their 2014 scheme, the Council may be able to advise if the structure would be eligible for funding now or in the future. The Heritage Council’s website is www.heritagecouncil.ie.
The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government also administers a grant scheme for the renewal or repair of thatched roofs of owner occupied houses. I refer the Deputy to that Department for details of eligibility criteria for that scheme.
The level of funding available in 2015 and future years for these schemes will be subject to the normal Budgetary and Estimates processes. As the Deputy can appreciate, the scope for additional funding for the conservation of the built heritage is constrained by the significant reduction in the public finances.