I propose to take Questions Nos. 871 to 873, inclusive, together.
My Department does not have direct responsibility for delivery of any capital project being undertaken under Project Ireland 2040. However, my Department is responsible for the administration and implementation of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, one of four funds established under Project Ireland 2040.
The Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.
It should also be noted that as part of Project Ireland 2040, it is intended that the broad range of other initiatives delivered by my Department in order to support rural regeneration and economic growth, such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, Ceantair Laga ÁrdRiachtanais (CLÁR) and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, will in the future be integrated into the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and under the larger Project Ireland 2040 umbrella to ensure more strategic use of this funding.
In terms of the implementation of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, applications for the first call under the Fund, which is competitive in nature, closed in September 2018. Following the conclusion of the first call in February 2019, a total of 84 successful projects had been announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund. This funding supported a total investment of €117m by these projects in rural areas.
Each of these projects is being led, implemented and delivered by a State-funded body, such as a local authority, LEADER Local Action Group or State Agency. However, projects are collaborative in nature, often involving direct support by other such bodies or by philanthropic organisations or community bodies.
Following the announcement of the successful projects, my Department engaged with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements. Final approval for projects is only issued following the completion of the relevant procurement processes, thereby providing a degree of certainty in relation to the cost of projects, many of which are small in scale. Contractual arrangements are also drawn up with the release of funding based on the achievement of key milestones in the projects.
No significant time delays or cost overruns have yet been identified through this process and good progress is already being made on the implementation of successful projects. A number of the projects have already met their first milestone and had funding released. To date, €1,722,043 has been drawn down from the Fund by seven separate projects. I expect that payments from the Fund will significantly accelerate over the coming weeks and months as further milestones are achieved across all the 84 projects.