Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Ceisteanna (326)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

326. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding options available to community groups and local authorities that wish to develop cycle paths in their areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12653/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The development of cycle paths may be eligible for funding under a number of my Department's programmes, including the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and LEADER.

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is part of the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 Rural Regeneration Programme. The objective of the scheme is to support the development and promotion of new outdoor recreation infrastructure and the maintenance and promotion of existing recreation infrastructure in rural areas.

Since I introduced support for this type of infrastructure in 2016, I have approved over €41 million in funding for almost 600 projects around the country. This investment has funded walkways, blueways, trails and other outdoor infrastructural projects around the country.

I propose to launch the 2019 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme shortly, to continue to support investment in projects that will benefit visitors and locals alike in rural areas. Full details of the scheme will be available on my Department's website.

LEADER is a multi-annual programme covering the period 2014-2020 which is delivered through Local Action Groups in each of the 28 LEADER sub-regional areas around the country. Funding can be provided under a broad range of defined themes, which include enterprise development and social inclusion.

The Enterprise Development theme of the LEADER Programme focuses on driving continued local economic development, including diversification of the rural economy and the creation of employment opportunities. The development of cycle paths in local areas can have a direct impact on local tourism and have positive benefits for other local industries. In that context, support for the works outlined by the Deputy could potentially be considered eligible for LEADER funding.

In order for a project to be eligible for funding under LEADER, it must be compatible with the actions outlined in the approved Local Development Strategy in the LEADER sub-regional area concerned, and it must comply with the Operating Rules and EU Regulations in place for the programme.

The decision to approve a project, or otherwise, is a matter for the Local Action Groups (LAGs) which administer the programme in each LEADER area. Interested applicants should, in the first instance, contact the relevant LAG through its Implementing Partners to discuss the funding that may be available. Contact details for Implementing Partners under LEADER are available on my Department’s website at: https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/180813-Update-Contact-Details-for-LEADER.pdf.