My Department administers the Walks Scheme which facilitates the development and maintenance of many of Ireland’s walking trails. The scheme involves landholders as key participants in the provision of high quality walking trails, by contracting them to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Way Marked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. The landholders receive modest payments for maintenance work undertaken, in line with agreed work plans.
The scheme currently covers 39 trails, with payments made to approximately 1,900 landholders to maintain those trails.
The Programme for a Partnership Government and the Action Plan for Rural Development include a commitment to increase the number of trails covered by the Walks Scheme and my officials are working towards this objective. I intend to initiate a comprehensive review of the scheme’s operation this year in order to determine how best to expand the scheme and maximise the impact of the resources available to me. This review will inform any decisions to be made regarding new walks to be included in the scheme.
As significant consultation will be required with both landholders and other stakeholders, it is unlikely that any increase in the number of walks covered by the scheme will be implemented until late 2018 or early 2019.