Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Questions (30)

James Browne


30. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for future development of coastal paths, greenways and blueways in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9846/18]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Apart from waterways under the aegis of Waterways Ireland and the properties within the National Parks and Reserves, my Department has no statutory function in relation to coastal paths, greenways and Blueways. 

Waterways Ireland, a North South Implementation Body under my remit, is responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of some 1,000km of navigable inland waterways principally for recreational purposes.  It has responsibility for the Shannon-Erne Waterway, the Shannon Navigation, the Barrow Navigation, the Grand and Royal Canals, the Erne System and the Lower Bann Navigation.

This is a significant recreational resource and Waterways Ireland has been proactive in the development of Blueways and Greenways as a means to attract new visitors and in response to the growth for recreational activities such as walking, canoeing and cycling.  

Waterways Ireland has no development plans for County Wexford as none of its inland waterways are located in the county.

Through the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a Division of my Department, I am also responsible for the 6 National parks and 78 Reserves, including the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. In all this totals about 87,000 hectares and hundreds of kilometres of trails.

The NPWS is responsible for the maintenance of trails and pathways within the Parks and Reserves, as well as the provision of amenity, conservation, interpretation, scientific and visitor services. Through its participation the National Outdoor Recreation Group, an ad-hoc group of public service recreational infrastructure providers, such as Coillte, Bord na Mona, OPW and Waterways Ireland, its drives interconnection and co-operation between these entities.

Within their own counties, Local Authorities are responsible for the provision and development of the infrastructure instanced by the Deputy. Of particular note in that regard is the wonderful project on Waterford's coastline opened last year, an initiative driven by Waterford County Council. In that respect, the two Government Departments with primary funding responsibility are the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Rural and Community Affairs. In that respect, the Rural Recreation Schemes and Leader Programmes operated under the aegis of the latter Department are a particular point of reference.