Thursday, 15 July 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 102 together.
The local improvement scheme provides funding for work on rural roads and laneways, as Deputy Griffin well knows. He has raised this matter with me on a number of occasions. These particular laneways are not normally maintained by local authorities. They are normally private and go into agricultural land and houses.
This funding is vital for rural residents and for improving connectivity for rural farm families, in particular. The scheme is funded by my Department and is administered through the local authorities. I launched the 2021 local improvement scheme on 14 May with an announcement of funding of €10.5 million, representing a 5% increase on last year's funding. As part of the our rural future policy, the Government committed to ensuring that the local improvement scheme is funded into the future. This reflects the important contribution that the scheme makes to connectivity in rural Ireland. It is against this background that I am very pleased to confirm that I recently announced the allocation of a further €10.5 million to the local improvement scheme in 2021 to bring the level of funding to €21 million. That means that the level of funding has been doubled this year compared to the original allocation. The increase will be funded from expected savings elsewhere in my Department. I am also continuing to engage with my colleague, the Minister for Transport, to explore the potential for further financial support from his Department.
My Department is currently ascertaining the capacity of each local authority to deliver this additional funding and to complete works on additional roads before the end of the year. Following on from this engagement, I expect to shortly announce the exact additional allocation to each county. The announcement will mean that almost €80 million will have been allocated under the local improvement scheme since it was reintroduced by the former Minister, Deputy Ring, in 2017. This demonstrates the Government's commitment to improving connectivity in rural Ireland, as outlined in the our rural future policy.