Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (7)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

7. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the Great Western Lakes project; if a copy of the feasibility study will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50640/19]

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Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Rural)

I want to know the status of Great Western Lakes project and whether the feasibility study is available.

The Great Western Lakes feasibility study referred to by the Deputy was funded under the co-operation strand of the LEADER Programme.

The study was a pre-development phase project which precedes the full co-operation project. It allows local action groups, project promoters and other contributors to investigate the merit and potential to develop concrete actions that could form a full co-operation project.

Funding of €9,750 was approved for the project in question.

The feasibility study involved the investigation into the possibility of creating a scenic driving route linked to the Wild Atlantic Way, and taking in Lough Mask and Lough Corrib.

The study has been completed and was launched in June of this year. It is now open to the project promoters to decide what course of action they wish to take following the completion of the study.

I am arranging for a copy of the feasibility study to be forwarded to the Deputy's office.

I welcome that confirmation that the Minister of State will give me a copy.

Public funds were given out for a feasibility study for a good project. I want to see where it is going to next, what has been learned and how can we roll it out, if it is effective, to other areas because local areas are crying out for projects. The Minister of State knows that. I can name Kilmaine and Shrule - towns that are struggling to survive and need input. I have a later question on the empty residential buildings in different towns which I will come back to.

Has the Department no more contact in relation to this? Is it correct that the Minister of State is waiting for the group on the ground to come back and tell him what it will do?

The local authority partners for the project are FORUM Connemara in west Galway and Mayo Local Community Development Committee, LCDC, through its implementation partner, South West Mayo Development Company. They have done the feasibility study, which involved the investigation of the possibility of creating this scenic driving route linking through counties Galway and Mayo, termed the Great Western Lakes of Lough Mask and Lough Corrib. The proposed driving route would take in Leenane, Maam, Cornamona, Clonbur, the Neale, Ballinrobe, Partry, Tourmakeady, Aghagower and finishing in Westport. The findings of this study will be used to produce a five-year plan for 2018 to 2023 for the development of the driving route, the steps required to progress this project and the financial requirements to implement the plan as well as incorporating the relevant components towards achieving a successful driving route.

The project promoters are reviewing the report's findings and will decide if they wish to proceed to a full co-operation project. The Department and the Minister have no role in the progression of this project. It is a matter for the promoters to review the findings in the report and then decide if they want to apply for further funding to progress the project. The Deputy mentioned the towns and villages. This is very important and it is hoped that they will come forward with a very good proposal.

I also hope they come forward with such a proposal. I am a little confused about whether there will be a cycle route.

The feasibility study involved an investigation into the possibility of creating a scenic driving route linked to the Wild Atlantic Way and taking in Lough Mask and Lough Corrib. The study has been completed. They may decide to put in cycling routes as well as driving routes. I am not so sure what they will come back with in the aftermath of this feasibility study. The important thing is that we hope they come forward with a full co-operation plan because there is funding for that type of project, provided it is feasible. I would hope that they will come forward with something. It is the type of project we need to revitalise rural areas and the small towns and villages along the route, and to create a tourism offering that will bring people to stop in the towns and villages to have a cup of coffee and bring life into some of these towns.

Question No. 8 replied to with Written Answers.