23 June 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has said €10 million in funding under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for 2020 will support tourism and community wellbeing in Cork during the Covid-19 recovery. The scheme provides funding for the development of new and existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in rural areas and is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development in partnership with Fáilte Ireland.
Senator Lombard said: “The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme has been crucial to the development of the recreation facilities enjoyed by growing numbers of locals and tourists in rural areas in recent years. These facilities are now more important than ever in light of the Covid–19 emergency.
“The funding is one element of a €30 million package of co-ordinated and complementary supports launched by Fine Gael’s Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring as part of his Department’s Rural Development Investment Programme which is funded under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040.
“The other elements of the package announced this week were the €15 million Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the €5 million CLÁR Programme. Each scheme will play its role in the social and economic recovery of rural communities over the coming months, following the Covid-19 outbreak. Leader funding has also been approved by the Department in the last ten days, as well as confirmation that Tidy Towns funding can still be used despite the cancellation of this year’s competition.”
Senator Lombard continued: “The Covid-19 situation has given people a renewed appreciation of the benefit of the outdoors to their wellbeing. 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. More than ever, we value the outdoor recreation infrastructure in our local areas.
“Thankfully we have an abundance of natural beauty here in Cork as well as many excellent tracks and trails. 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 urge Cork County Council, Local Development Companies, and State agencies to engage with this year’s Scheme with a view to improving our offering to local communities and to our visitors.”
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said: “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.”
Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme
The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme provides funding for the development of new and existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in rural areas, such as cycleways, walking trails, blueways and mountain access routes. The 2020 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) will provide funding under 3 separate measures:
- Measure 1: Small Scale repair/Promotion and Marketing (grant up to €20,000).
- Measure 2: Medium scale repair/upgrade and new Trail/Amenity Development (grant up to €200,000).
- Measure 3: Large scale Repair/upgrade and new Strategic Trail/Amenity Development (grant up to €500,000).
Project applications are submitted via the Local Authorities under all Measures.
Measure 1 is also open to applications from Local Development Companies, while State Agencies can submit applications under Measure 3.
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.
The deadline for applications for Measure 1 is 30th September.
The deadline for applications for Measures 2 and 3 is 30th November.
Rural Development Investment Programme
The Department of Rural and Community Development’s Rural Development Investment Programme includes a number of integrated funding interventions:
o Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF)
o Town and Village Renewal Scheme
o Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme
o Local Improvement Scheme
- Walks Scheme
The Department’s total funding allocation for 2020 for the Rural Development Investment Programme is €149.7 million.