I propose to take Questions Nos. 662 to 666, inclusive, together.
Under the National Development Plan, the Government has committed to providing €1 billion for a new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund over the period 2019 to 2027. The objective of the new Fund is to drive collaborative, coordinated and complementary packages of investment between Departments, agencies, Local Authorities and other public bodies, to transform our rural towns and villages and their outlying areas.
Proposals for funding will be made on a competitive bid-based approach, based on delivering on the objectives in the National Planning Framework to support rural Ireland. The Plan provides that proposals submitted for funding will have to demonstrate a participant contribution from State, local authority, or other funding. This is currently the case in relation to the schemes operated by my Department and helps to achieve additionality.
Initial funding of €315 million is being allocated to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund over the period 2019 to 2022. This initial phase will allow my Department to build on existing initiatives which it administers, as well as to support new collaborative initiatives as outlined above. The initial period of funding will also provide an opportunity for an assessment of both specific projects and the method of allocation of this funding, and will inform further allocations. Funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will continue beyond 2022, to 2027.
As set out in the National Development Plan, my Department currently operates a number of schemes to support rural regeneration. These include the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, CLÁR and the Rural Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. While each of these schemes makes a valuable impact in its own right, I want to build on the synergies between the schemes to achieve better outcomes for people who live in rural areas.
The National Development Plan also envisages that, over time, these schemes will be integrated into the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. This will provide an opportunity to align the schemes with complementary initiatives operated by other Departments to maximise the impact on rural communities of investment across national and local government, and achieve better value for money.
My Department is currently developing proposals for the detailed operation of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and I will announce the details following consultation with relevant Government colleagues.