The Department provides capital support for the construction of swimming pools. In this regard, the local authority swimming pool programme provides grant aid towards the capital costs of new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools. To date, 52 pools have been completed and three swimming pool projects, in Lucan, Buncrana and Edenderry, remain in the programme. The Lucan pool is under construction and is expected to be completed later this year, while both the Buncrana and Edenderry projects are at contract documents stage.
Exchequer support for any new swimming pool projects is now provided under the large scale sport infrastructure fund, LSSIF, which was launched in 2018 to provide Exchequer support for larger sports facilities including both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, with at least €100 million made available over the period to 2027. Fifteen applications were received for swimming pool projects, all of which were for indoor facilities. Provisional grants for eight swimming pools under the LSSIF were awarded in January 2020 and these projects are at various stages of a due diligence process. While it is not proposed to open the LSSIF to new applications at present, the Department is undertaking a review of the LSSIF programme, which is expected to be completed in the coming months. This review will consider progress on all existing grants and whether any additional grants should be awarded, while the timing of any new call for proposals will also be considered. Any new allocations or a new call for proposals will be dependent on receiving additional funding under the current review of the national development plan.
As for future swimming pools, the National Sports Policy 2018-2027, launched on 25 July 2018, commits to the development of a national swimming strategy. This will involve close collaboration with relevant Departments, local authorities, sporting bodies and other stakeholders. As part of this, there will be a review of swimming pool provision to identify where gaps exist and how they can be met. Moreover, a sports action plan, covering the period to the end of 2023, is nearing completion and will be published soon. It is envisaged that the development of a national swimming strategy will be significantly progressed as a priority in the early stages of that action plan.
Furthermore, I recently met representatives of Swim Ireland to discuss a proposal for a pilot programme using mobile or pop-up container pools to deliver swimming lessons on school grounds. These pools can be transported to a school setting and I understand a similar scheme is in operation in the UK.
I will conclude my prepared contribution in my follow-up response.