My Department administers the Walks Scheme which was originally launched in March 2008. The Scheme includes 1,962 landholders as key participants in the provision of 39 high quality walking trails, by contracting them to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Waymarked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. The landholders receive modest payments for maintenance work undertaken in line with agreed work plans. A number of trails currently included in the scheme form part of the Beara Breifne Way, which runs from Cork to Cavan.
Payment to landholders on the scheme are made by my Department twice yearly and all payments due in respect of the 39 walks currently on the scheme have been paid for this year.
Earlier this month I announced the addition of 10 new trails to the Walks Scheme. These trails constitute the first phase of an expansion that will see the Walks Scheme doubling in size to 80 trails when all phases of the expansion are complete. A number of the new trails coming onto the Scheme in this first phase comprise parts of the Beara Breifne Way.
The Walks Scheme is administered at a local level by Local Development Companies on behalf of my Department. The Local Development Companies will engage with the relevant landholders to develop work plans for the sections of trails that traverse their land.
It is expected that these work plans will be developed early in the New Year so that the relevant landholders can be formally brought into the scheme and be eligible for payment.