I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 266 together.
I am grateful to the Deputy for his enduring personal interest in my Department's efforts to conserve, present and promote the unique range of cultural and heritage assets, both natural and built, that Ireland is fortunate enough to possess and that do so much to provide enjoyment and amenities for our people, to sustain and create identities for our communities and to generate tourism interest in our country throughout the world.
My replies to the Deputy's previous Question No. 65 on 16 January 2019 and Questions Nos. 216, 217 and 220 on 10 April 2019 provide a good insight into the work being done by my Department in this area and especially in relation to National Monuments.
I would also refer the Deputy to the reply Question No. 37433/19 for answer today as this emphasises the work I'm doing in relation to our National Parks, and I know that this too will interest the Deputy.
In July of last year, as part of this partnership, we published Experiencing the Wild heart of Ireland – A Tourism Interpretative Masterplan for the National Parks and Nature Reserves.
The plan recommends a suite of capital projects of varying sizes. The first such project, a €2.1m investment in Wild Nephin- Ballycroy National Park was announced on the 31st of August, 2018 to develop a continuous 53km walking cycling trail from Newport to Ballycastle on the Wild Atlantic Way through the National Park.
The second project, is an investment of some €1.9m in Connemara National Park. This project will also improve the visitor experience at the Park and focuses on the enhancement of the existing Recreational Trail Network as well as the construction of a new car park, the provision of toilet facilities, the development of an additional 10.5 Km of new trails, a children’s natural play area, and a new Lime Kiln Trail to enhance access to more areas of the National Park. Development works have begun on site and will be completed by the end of 2020.
Under the Rural Regeneration Fund (RRF) 32 projects, dispersed nationally, are being resourced with the total investment relating to the projects at €7,175,000. The projects are currently underway and funding will go towards the upgrading and development of trails across the Parks and Reserves network, increased visitor facilities and improved signage and branding. Hybrid buses in selected National Parks will be purchased to assist in lowering the carbon footprint of visitor activities.