Thursday, 13 July 2023
Department of Rural and Community Development
873. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development for a breakdown on the amount of funds Coillte Teoranta has invested in the maintenance and upkeep of the Western Way walking route in the properties under their control from Sralagagh West, Ballycastle Forest, through Sheskin Forest, Nephin Beg and other forest properties south to Leenaun from January 2018 to date, in tabular form. [34978/23]
The development of outdoor amenities is central to Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors, the new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2023-2027, which was launched last November. The Strategy sets the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come. Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors will ensure that there is a joined up and coordinated approach to deliver maximum impact from the significant investment in the sector and to build on the natural advantages in place.
In May 2022, I announced €15 million of funding for Coillte as part of a new five year strategic partnership between my Department and Coillte to enhance outdoor recreational facilities on Coillte-owned land and to support increased tourism and economic activity in rural areas. This builds on the previous 5 year agreement which provided funding of €11 million over the period 2017-2021 and represents a significant investment by the Government in the development of these assets which will benefit rural communities and visitors alike.
Over the last number of years we have seen a major increase in the number of people accessing outdoor recreation infrastructure. As Ireland’s largest landowner and largest provider of outdoor recreation in Ireland, Coillte are uniquely placed to assist in building on that demand to ensure that people can continue to enjoy the unique advantages offered by the Irish countryside.
The funding provided by my Department will see Coillte further develop their outdoor recreation facilities across its recreational sites in order to meet the increased demand for access to its amenities. Works include maintenance and development of trails, cycleways, play areas, upgrading of car parking and toilet facilities to help manage the growing number of visitors.
Coillte undertook works in the various forests along the Western Way over the last number of years. However the exact expenditure which related to the specific works on the Western Way trail is not avialble for all these years.
I understand that there are issues regarding access to parts of the Western Way that cross Coillte lands and my officials have asked Coillte to examine the issues raised and to report back by Friday 21st July 2023.
The detail of the expenditure recorded by Coillte and funded by my Department on the Western Way trails is detailed in Table 1. Details of additional expenditure on forests along the Western Way are shown in Table 2.
|2018||Western Way trails||€25,696|
|2019||Western Way trails||€12,288|
|2020*||Western Way trails|
|2021||Western Way trails||€23,258|
|2022*||Western Way trails|
|2023*||Western Way trails|
* Specific expenditure on the Western Way trail element not recorded
|2021||Brackloon Wood, Tawnyard||€6,451|
|2022||Brackloon Wood, Sheskin, Teevenish||€23,171|
|2023||Brackloon Wood, Sheskin||€2,730|