Featured Photo: Martin Fleming, Failte Ireland
A new grant scheme has been announced to provide €10 million in funding for new and improved outdoor recreational infrastructure in rural areas.
The government scheme has been created to support tourism and community wellbeing in post-COVID recovery.
Grants varying from under €20,000 to €500,000 will be made available for the development of facilities such as cycleways, walking trails, blueways and mountain access routes.
The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, and forms part of the Rural Development Investment Programme.
In launching the 2020 scheme, Minister Ring said: “The COVID situation has given people a renewed appreciation of the benefit of the outdoors to their wellbeing. More than ever, they value the outdoor recreation infrastructure in their local areas.
“We know that more people have been taking part in outdoor recreational activities since the COVID-19 restrictions became a part of our daily lives. An additional 500,000 regular recreational walkers took to the pavements, walks and trails during March and April 2020 compared to 12 months earlier. The same period also saw significant numbers of new runners and cyclists.
“The walking trails, cycleways, mountain access routes and other facilities that the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme supports provide vital opportunities for people in rural areas to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment.
“These recreational facilities also have an important economic function. Funding for local greenways, blueways and walking trails will support activity tourism and the many thousands of local jobs which the sector provides.
“The natural resources available to us here in Ireland continue to offer great potential for activity tourism. Walking and cycling are amongst the main activities undertaken by both domestic and overseas tourists, and this trend is set to increase as the economy recovers.
“I am delighted that Fáilte Ireland has joined with my Department again this year to financially support the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure scheme. I have also increased the funding rate that will apply to projects approved under the scheme this year, from 80% to a maximum of 90%. This should ensure that the requirement on communities and other applicants to source match funding is kept to a minimum.”
The 2020 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) will provide funding under 3 separate measures – small, medium and large scale.
Project applications are submitted via the Local Authorities under all Measures.
The deadline for applications for Measure 1 is 30th September.
The deadline for applications for Measures 2 and 3 is 30th November.
Funding will be provided to a maximum of 90% of total project costs. This increased funding level has been introduced in recognition of the difficulty in raising match funding due to the impact of COVID–19.