The Walks Scheme currently covers 39 trails, with payments made to approximately 1,900 private land-holders to maintain those trails. The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase the number of walks covered by the scheme. In line with this commitment, funding for the scheme was doubled in Budget 2019 - from €2 million to €4 million - to allow this expansion to proceed.
I am initiating a review of the operation of Walks Scheme which will inform decisions regarding the expansion of the scheme. In order to be in a position to bring new trails on to the scheme as soon as possible, however, I will also be inviting Local Development Companies and Local Authorities to submit expressions of interest in respect of trails that meet specific qualifying criteria, for consideration for inclusion in the scheme.
I intend to publish details of this process in the coming weeks, to enable my officials to identify the initial trails for inclusion in the expanded scheme, with additional walks to join the Scheme on an incremental basis thereafter.