Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
Rural Recreation Policy
359. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she is considering increasing the maximum grant aid under the outdoor recreation scheme measures 2 and 3 to 90% in view of the difficulty of obtaining matching funding for such projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30381/21]
Since 2016, my Department has allocated almost €68 million to nearly 1,000 projects through the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. This includes almost €16 million for 226 projects approved earlier this year. My Department also provides in the region of €2 million annually to fund the maintenance and improvement of trails and other amenities in Coillte forests.
Outdoor recreation plays an important role in the physical, mental and economic wellbeing of our rural areas and this has been shown, more than ever, over the last year. That is why I was pleased to secure a 20% increase in the budget available to my Department for the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme in 2021. My Department is committed to supporting the sector to maximise its potential for society and to ensure that it plays an important part in the recovery from COVID-19.
Given the challenge in raising funds locally as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the funding rate under the 2020 scheme was increased from 80% to a maximum of 90%. I have continued with this higher funding rate of 90% for the 2021 Scheme which should ensure that the requirement on communities and other applicants to source match funding is kept to a minimum.