The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, which is administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, aims to encourage local communities, groups, schools and interested parties to engage with my Department in relation to the conservation of raised bog special areas of conservation, natural heritage areas and other raised bog areas and to promote public engagement and awareness of our natural heritage.
Following on from a successful pilot scheme in 2018, on 24 April this year, I announced a call for applications for the 2019 Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme. The scheme provides for grant funding of 75% of the total cost of a project. This year, I introduced a phased payment option of the total grant. To facilitate start-up, 30% of the funding for a project may be payable on acceptance of the grant and meeting start up conditions.
The 2019 scheme was advertised on the website of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (www.chg.gov.ie), on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department (www.npws.ie) and through social media and media outlets. Advertisements were placed in a number of regional papers, predominately where raised bogs are a feature of that community and its landscape and . Applications were accepted for the scheme up to the end of May 2019.
Eligible applications received were assessed by a panel established by my Department based on the information submitted and under the criteria of the scheme. Recommendations were then made to me, as Minister, for funding of a number of these projects. In July 2019, I approved grant funding of just under €131,000 to thirteen local community groups and organisations, with €16,245 in pre-funding to be provided to seven of these groups as start-up funding.
Funding of €1,500 was awarded to one local group in County Offaly, Kilclonfert Community Hall Committee, to have a display and information on Raheenmore Bog, a raised bog special area of conservation, set up in the local community centre and to have directional signage put in place for anyone wishing to visit the bog.