Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2611)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

2611. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the position regarding the walks scheme funded through his Department; if new applications under the scheme have been received from County Donegal; if existing participants under the scheme will be automatically rolled over onto the new funding programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32170/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Walks Scheme currently covers 39 trails, with payments made to approximately 1,960 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. Existing participants will remain on the current scheme during this expansion.

In February of this year, I invited Expressions of Interest for inclusion in the scheme of additional trails that meet specific qualifying criteria.

Interested trail management committees, community groups and other relevant bodies were invited to make contact with their Local Authority or Local Development Company to commence the process. To date, 15 Local Development Companies have submitted 47 Expressions of Interest to my Department. None of these are in respect of trails in Co. Donegal.

There is no closing date for Expressions of Interest at this time, and interested parties can continue to submit proposals for additional trails to be included in the Walks Scheme, through their Local Authority or Local Development Company.