Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Department of Rural and Community Development
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has policy responsibility for greenways. The Minister is also responsible for the National Trail Office, which holds an insurance policy covering approved National Way-Marked Ways and Looped Walks, including walks covered by my Department's Walks Scheme.
My Department makes a contribution towards the cost of this policy, which provides landowners with insurance against claims for loss or damage from recreational users of approved trails, and land adjacent to these trails.
My Department has separately been working to develop a National Indemnity Scheme to indemnify private land owners in areas not covered by the approved trails in respect of the use of their lands for recreational purposes. These tend to be in upland areas, mountains and commonages, where the natural terrain does not make it feasible to define trails or set pre-determined standards.
This is a complex issue and the legal rights of landowners must be respected, while trying to facilitate access to their lands for recreational users on a permissive basis. My Department has been advised that an indemnity scheme such as the one envisaged will require legislative provision.
My officials have been in contact with the State Claims Agency and have sought advice from the Attorney General's Office on the proposed scope, roll-out, and the legal processes required to give effect to such a scheme. Further contact between officials is likely to take place over the coming weeks on the matter.