Thursday, 12 December 2019

Questions (388)

Brendan Smith


388. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to extend the blueways programme in 2020; the particular schemes in this regard; the level of investment in each project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52486/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Waterways Ireland continue to invest in Blueways and Recreational trails for the benefit of the local community and tourists alike. During 2020 there are plans for substantial investment in Blueways with financial support from the Local Authorities and funding from the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.

Blueway and recreational trail development planned for 2020 includes:

- Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Bridge Recreational trail - 5.5km recreational trail from Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan to Bellaheady Bridge, Co. Cavan primarily along the banks of the Shannon-Erne Waterway.

- Belturbet to Lock 1 Corraquill Recreational Trail - 6km recreational trail from Belturbet, Co. Cavan to Lock 1 Corraquill, Co. Cavan

- Leitrim Village to Kilclare Blueway - 3.9km Blueway trail from Lock 16 – Lock 14 & Lock 12 – Lock 9 in Co. Leitrim

- Aghoo Bridge to Lock 4 Aghoo Recreational Trail - 360m recreational trail and bridge underpass from Aghoo Bridge to Lock 4 Aghoo, Co. Leitrim

Barrow Blueway from Lowtown to Athy

46km recreational Blueway trail

Capital funding will also be utilised to take forward further Blueway developments in 2020 including:

- Shannon Blueway Lough Allen to Hotel

- Shannon Blueway Roosky Canal Loop

- Inner Lakes Canoe Trail

- O’Briensbridge Canoe Trail

- Killaloe Blueway

These projects are currently at differing stages of concept design, environmental studies, planning and identification of suitable funding mechanisms in order to bring to fruition. They are all partnership projects between local communities, the Local Authorities and Waterways Ireland. Waterways Ireland has set aside a budget of €60,000 to take forward these projects in 2020.

Waterways Ireland are planning to continue a programme of marketing and promotional activities aimed at activating, animating and encouraging users to the existing Blueways in 2020.

Such a programme will include:

- Undertaking a “Head into the Blue” marketing campaign to promote water activity;

- Working towards a common goal with Fáilte Ireland through their Ireland’s Ancient East and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands propositions;

- Forming and growing other Strategic Partnerships to leverage marketing impact through e.g. Local Authorities, NGBs, National Tourism and Sporting Bodies in Ireland and NI, IAAT, etc.;

- Bringing a focus on Blueways Events and Education that focus on participation in active water sports;

- Working in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, Tourism NI, Sport Ireland and Sport NI to support quality and consistency of Blueway development across the island of Ireland through independent accreditation system; and

- Developing an approach towards assessing and quantifying the return on investment for Blueway development, in terms of not only visitor numbers but also health and well-being impacts.