My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through two grant schemes which are, in the main, administered by the local authorities. These are the Historic Structures Fund (HSF) and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS).
The HSF is for conservation and enhancement to heritage structures and historic buildings, in both private and public ownership, for the benefit of communities and the public. This scheme operates across all counties, including County Cork. The allocation for the HSF in 2021 is €3 million, against €1.8 million in 2020.
The BHIS is a scheme for the repair and conservation of structures on the local authority Record of Protected Structures (RPS). It is designed to leverage private capital for investment in small scale conservation projects across the country and to support the employment of skilled conservation professionals.
The allocation for the BHIS in 2021 is €3 million, against €2.5 million in 2020. The allocation for Cork City Council is €114,000 and €94,800 for Cork County Council. The annual funding allocated to each City and County Council under the BHIS is based on the number of protected structures in the geographical area of that local authority, having regard to the population of that area on a ratio of 80/20 pro-rata. Where a local authority underspends in a particular year, that money can be reallocated to another local authority, ensuring that funding is directed to where it is most needed.
The operation of the scheme is kept under review and the method of allocating funds, including the number of structures on the RPS, will be among the matters to be considered in the next review, which is due to take place this summer.
Last year I also introduced the Community Monuments Fund (CMF) for conservation and other works at our national monuments, many of which are protected structures. It is administered by the National Monuments Service of my Department through the local authorities. The CMF for 2021 is due to be launched in the coming weeks. It will invest essential funding in our valuable archaeological heritage and help the owners and custodians of archaeological monuments to safeguard them into the future for the benefit of communities and the public. The core aims of the CMF are the conservation, maintenance, protection and promotion of local monuments and historic sites and will:
- enable conservation works to be carried out on monuments which are deemed to be significant and in need of urgent support;
- encourage access to monuments and improve their presentation;
- build resilience in our monuments to enable them to withstand the effects of climate change