As part of Our Rural Future, the Government is committed to ensuring that the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) is funded into the future. The LIS supports the improvement of rural roads and laneways that are not normally maintained by local authorities. The scheme makes an important contribution to connectivity in rural Ireland.
The scheme was reintroduced in 2017 following a number of years with no dedicated funding. Between 2017 and 2021, my Department allocated €80 million towards improvement works on over 3,000 non-public roads and lanes. These works have benefited over 13,300 landowners and residents in these rural areas.
Traditionally, as the Deputy is aware, the Dublin local authorities as well as Cork City Council and Galway City Council have not been deemed eligible for funding under the Scheme. That said, each year all aspects of the Scheme, including eligibility are reviewed prior to launch.
The Local Improvement Scheme is demand-led, is typically over subscribed at local authority level and the available budget fully utilised each year. Within this context, my priority is to deal with the substantial number of eligible applications on hand in the local authority system and further enhance rural connectivity rather than widening the existing eligibility criteria to include areas within the Dublin metropolitan area.
I was pleased, as part of Budget 2022, to announce an increase in the base funding for LIS from €10.5 million to €11 million this year. I have announced the details of the 2022 LIS scheme, including allocations to each county council.