Thursday, 14 October 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
Rural Recreation Policy
27. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the walks scheme in respect of new projects in County Mayo; the funding that has been allocated to these projects; the likely timeline for the development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50111/21]
The Walks Scheme, which is funded by my Department, contracts landholders to undertake maintenance work on National Waymarked Ways and other priority trails that traverse their lands. The landholders receive modest payments for maintenance work undertaken in line with agreed work plans.
In March 2019, my Department invited Expression of Interests (EOIs) for qualifying trails to be added to the Walks Scheme. In all, 66 EOIs were submitted for consideration to join the Scheme.
Of the EOIs received, 10 trails were accepted onto the Scheme under phase one of the expansion in December 2019.
On 29 September this year, I announced the 'approval in principle' of an additional 31 trails to join the Walks Scheme under phase 2 of the expansion. This fulfils the commitment in the Programme for Government and Our Rural Future to double the number of trails on the Scheme to 80 trails.
The trails selected for inclusion in the scheme under Phase 2 was informed by the recommendations of an Independent Evaluation Committee comprising of representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland and Mountaineering Ireland.
Three of the EOIs from Mayo were not eligible for inclusion as they were located on greenways. The fourth EOI from Mayo was not on Sport Ireland’s Trail Register and was therefore also not eligible for inclusion.
A new expression of interest process will be opened for new trails in advance of any further expansion of the scheme.