Thursday, 28 March 2019

Questions (195)

Dara Calleary

Question:

195. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the current and capital funding allocated to the walks scheme in each of the years 2016 to 2018; the allocation for 2019, in tabular form; the amount expended on the scheme in each such year; the number of trails per county covered by the scheme; and the number of participating landowners in each such year of the scheme. [14719/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Walks Scheme is an innovative response to facilitating the development and maintenance of some of Ireland’s key walking trails. The scheme provides modest payments to landowners to maintain these trails, based on agreed individual work programmes.

A current allocation of €2 million per annum was provided for the scheme each year from 2016 to 2018 inclusive to cover these payments.

The Programme for a Partnership Government included 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.

My Department has recently advertised for expressions of interest from Local Development Companies and Local Authorities for walks that might be considered for inclusion in the expanded scheme. My Department will consider these Expressions of Interest under a number of criteria, including the strategic importance of the trail, landowner agreement to participate, state of readiness, etc.

In addition to the core €2 million funding, there are other costs associated with the scheme, including salary costs for Rural Recreation Officers who help to implement the scheme at local level, and small capital costs.

Table 1 below outlines the expenditure on the Walks Scheme from 2016 to 2019. Payments to landowners are made twice yearly - mid-year and at the end of the year. Hence, no payments have yet been made in 2019.

Table 2 below outlines the number of walks and the number of participants per county on the Walks Scheme from 2016 to 2018. It should be noted that the Scheme currently operates on 39 walks in total. However, a small number of the walks included in the scheme cut across county and administrative boundaries, and are therefore recorded under all relevant county headings in the table below. There is no duplication in the number of participants covered by the scheme.

Table 1 - Walks Scheme Expenditure 2016- 2019

Year

Current Expenditure

Capital Expenditure

Total Expenditure

2016

€2,305,615

€101,500

€2,407,115

2017

€2,416,501

€150,100

€2,566,601

2018

€2,526,046

€130,100

€2,656,146

2019

€0

€0

€0

Table 2 - No. of walks and participants by county

COUNTY

Scheme Walks per County

Participants 2016

Participants 2017

Participants 2018

CLARE

4

96

87

92

CORK

5

628

629

641

DONEGAL

2

79

79

79

GALWAY

2

52

54

54

KERRY

4

291

292

297

KILKENNY

3

29

29

29

LAOIS

1

13

13

13

LEITRIM

1

3

3

3

LOUTH

1

60

60

60

MAYO

5

229

230

230

OFFALY

1

27

26

26

ROSCOMMON

3

163

162

160

SLIGO

2

67

68

68

TIPPERARY

9

114

115

115

WICKLOW

1

60

58

59

Total

44

1911

1905

1926