Financial support is being provided by my Department through a number of structured schemes for the conservation and protection of heritage buildings.
I launched a new €2 million scheme - the Built Heritage Investment Scheme - for the repair and conservation of protected structures on 21 October 2015. This scheme is operating in 2016, via the local authorities, on the same model as the very successful Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme, which ran in 2014. It is expected to support in excess of 330 projects across the country and to create employment in the conservation and construction industries, while helping to regenerate urban and rural areas. The scheme for this year is now fully allocated.
The Structures at Risk Fund enables conservation works to heritage structures, in both private and public ownership, which are protected under the Planning and Development Acts and are deemed to be at significant risk of deterioration. This fund, which has an allocation of over €900,000 and will support 57 projects nationally in 2016, is administered through the local authorities and seeks to encourage the regeneration and reuse of heritage properties and to help to secure the preservation of protected structures which might otherwise be lost. Funding for 2016 has now been fully allocated.
No decision has been made on the allocation of funding to these schemes for 2017, which will be subject to the normal budgetary processes. The Conservation or Heritage Officer in the relevant local authority will be able to advise regarding funding available for conservation works to structures on the Record of Protected Structures and it is advisable for interested parties to remain in contact with their local authority on an ongoing basis.
My Department is also providing €350,000 of funding to the Office of Public Works (OPW) in 2016 to assist in the conservation and presentation of historic buildings and national monuments in State ownership. OPW undertakes the care and maintenance of national monuments in my ownership or guardianship (of which there are approximately 750). My Department’s National Monuments Service works in close collaboration with the OPW on survey, excavation and research work to optimise the protection, management, interpretation and presentation of national monuments in State care.
The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage. It is a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports annually having regard to competing priorities for limited resources. The Council recently awarded funding of over €880,000 to 171 heritage projects nationwide under its 2016 Heritage Management Grant Scheme. Further details of grant schemes available from the Heritage Council can be found at www.heritagecouncil.ie.