Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Architectural Heritage

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if his Department or an agency which receives funding from it have funds available towards the restoration and or conservation of unoccupied thatched houses which are used for community, heritage or cultural activities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57557/12]

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Kerry North-West Limerick, Fine Gael)
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Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2011 provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect architectural heritage, including thatched buildings, by including them on the Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.

A number of State financial supports have enabled the conservation and restoration of thatched structures. In 2012, my Department provided €500,000 in grant-aid assistance through a Structures at Risk Fund administered by local authorities to assist with works to safeguard structures protected under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012 including the conservation of two thatched structures. The Heritage Council, which is funded by my Department, grant-aided the restoration of twenty-three thatched structures under their Heritage Management Scheme in 2012.

The Heritage Council, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, also administers a grants scheme to REPS 4 participants on the conservation and repair of traditional farm buildings, known as the Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme. Grants are available under this scheme to carry out approved conservation works to the exterior of farm outbuildings including roofs. I understand that, subject to continued availability of funding, a call for applications for the 2013/14 scheme will be issued next year to participants.

The level of funding available in 2013 and future years for these schemes will be subject to the normal Budgetary and Estimates processes. It is hoped that the Structures at Risk Fund will be continued in 2013 but, a s the Deputy can appreciate, the scope for additional funding for the conservation of the built heritage is constrained by the significant reduction in the public finances.

In relation to policy and guidance matters, my Department, with the assistance of an Expert Advisory Committee representing key stakeholders, is currently finalising a review of the operation of Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012. The review will consider the need, in the light of current economic circumstances, to develop alternative ways of supporting the conservation of protected structures, including thatched structures.

In addition, as part of an Architectural Advice Series, my Department plans to publish an advice book on thatching in 2013, which will include further practical advice and guidance on aspects of conserving and restoring thatched structures. The nine previously published booklets in the Architectural Advice Series cover areas such as roof and energy efficiency for traditionally built buildings. The full series is available on my Department’s website at .


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