Introduced as part of the Project Ireland 2040 Programme for Rural Regeneration, the scheme provides funding for the development of new facilities as well as the maintenance, enhancement or promotion of existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in rural areas.
Deputy Carey explained that up to €20,000 will be provided for smaller maintenance and promotional schemes. Up to €200,000 will be available for the upgrading and development of medium scale projects and up to €500,000 is on offer for larger more strategic projects.
Local authorities will be the applicant bodies for the small and medium scale projects with local development companies invited to participate in the smaller schemes as partners or co-applicants.
The bigger projects will be open to local authorities and state agencies, with collaborative approaches welcomed under this measure in particular. Funding will be provided to a maximum of 80 per cent of total project costs, with the balance provided from local authority or other sources.
“As Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Affairs, I am well aware of the role that recreational tourism plays in the rural economy. It continues to be a significant growth area, and the natural resources available to us here in Clare offer great potential to avail of the economic benefits that this type of tourism can bring to rural areas,” he said.
“Increasing activity tourism is a key pillar of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, and the type of facilities which will be funded through the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme will include greenways, blueways, walking trails and other recreation infrastructure which will showcase the stunning scenery and wonderful places that we have to offer.
“The amenities funded through this scheme will create better experiences for visitors to rural areas, enhance the tourism offering and support sustainable economic development in rural areas,” Deputy Carey added.
Full details of the scheme will be issued by the Department of Rural and Community Development to all Local Authorities and other relevant bodies in the coming days.