Written answers

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Rural Recreation Policy

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Louth, Fianna Fail)
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63. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the programme of work laid out by his Department for rural recreation development this year; the new aspects to the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33739/13]

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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Comhairle na Tuaithe, which is chaired by my Department, has agreed a priority list of activities in line with the objectives of the National Countryside Recreation Strategy, to be undertaken in the short to medium term and to be kept under review. The renewal of Walks Scheme contracts in respect of 14 trails involving almost 900 participants will be finalised by the end of this year. A Pilot Mountain Access Project to establish a formal management structure to enable access to the McGillicuddy Reeks is being developed.

The Department has affiliated to the Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group (VSCG) whose objec tive is to develop shared and consistent approaches to creating safe access to the countryside. An information leaflet on Access and Liability has been prepared which provide s clear and concise information regarding the l egal position in relation to access to private land and occupiers liability. The Department, with the assistance of the State Claims Agency, is developing a National Indemnity Scheme for landowners in rural areas to indemnify them against claims for personal injury or damage to property from recreational users of their land. A review of the National Countryside Recreation Strategy will begin in September which will consider how best to expand the implementation of the Strategy on a national basis.

The Department, in conjunction with the National Trails Advisory Committee (NTAC), the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport and the NRA, is participating in a review of the National Cycle Policy Framework , in particular in the area of recreational cycling. The completion of these and other initiatives is subject to resource constraints, but the Minister secured approximately €600,000 in additional funding for the Rural Recreation budget this year. This funding will assist in maintaining the network of National Waymarked Ways and other priority walking routes of regional or national significance, the establishment of the State Agencies Network and the preparation of a National Plan for the development of State lands and waters for recreation purposes.


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