Fund launched to support development of outdoor pursuit facilities

Aim is to make rural Ireland ’a destination of choice, domestically and internationally, for outdoor pursuits and adventure tourism’

Cycling, horseriding,  surfing, sailing and rock-climbing and among the activities to be promoted by €14 million fund. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Cycling, horseriding, surfing, sailing and rock-climbing and among the activities to be promoted by €14 million fund. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A €14million fund to support outdoor adventure activities has been announced by the Minister for Community and Rural Development Heather Humphreys.

Applications for funding for outdoor recreation projects and investment that will support the adventure tourism sector in rural communications opened on Friday.

The focus of the funding is to develop rural Ireland’s natural amenities and support outdoor pursuits and adventure activities such as hiking/mountaineering, cycling, horseriding, canoeing/kayaking, swimming, surfing, sailing, rock-climbing, fishing, paragliding and hang-gliding.

The department said projects located within any of the five main city boundaries (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) or within a towns or villages are not eligible under the scheme.

“Projects should, in the main, be located in the countryside, not within the environs of towns or villages,” a spokesman said.

“Funding may be available separately for walkways, cycleways and other outdoor infrastructure located in towns and villages under the Town & Village Renewal Scheme. Given the emphasis on recreational amenities located near rivers, lakes and beaches, projects of this type located within town environs will be eligible in 2021. ORIS may also fund recreational infrastructure linking a town or village into the countryside, and particularly linking towns or villages to other outdoor recreation facilities located in the countryside.”

The fund will also provide investment in the development of outdoor trails, walkways, cycleways, blueways, tidal pools, floating boardwalks and bridleways.

The Minister said she wants to see rural Ireland “become a destination of choice, domestically and internationally, for outdoor pursuits and adventure tourism”.

“I want to see applications coming forward which seek to develop and improve access to rural Ireland’s unique natural amenities such as our lakes, rivers and beaches, as well as our forests, mountains and bogs,” she said.

“Through this fund, we will invest in the development of forest and mountain trails, tidal pools, floating boardwalks on our lakes and bogs, greenways, blueways, bridleways and much more.

“Covid-19 has given us all a renewed appreciation for our great outdoors. Through this fund, I want us to develop our fantastic natural amenities so that people can access them and enjoy them.

“Successful projects will also bring significant economic spin off benefits for our rural towns and villages by attracting both domestic and international tourists in the future.”

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) will provide funding as follows:

Measure One

- Small scale repair/development/promotion and marketing.

- Funding of up to €20,000 at a 90 per cent rate of aid.

- Maximum of seven applications can be submitted by each local authority.

- Maximum of three applications (increased from two in 2020) can be submitted by each local development company.

Measure Two

- Medium scale upgrade and new trail/amenity development.

- Funding of up to €200,000 at a 90 per cent rate of aid.

- Maximum of three applications can be submitted by each local authority.

Measure Three

- Large scale repair/upgrade and new strategic trail/amenity development.

- Funding of up to €500,000 at a 90 per cent rate of aid.

- Maximum of one application can be submitted by each local authority or state body, eg Coillte.

A Project Development Measure has been included on a trial basis which funds:

- Development costs for strategic large scale Measure Two or Measure Three type projects, eg detailed design, preparation for the planning and/or procurement, appropriate assessment etc.

- Funding of up to €50,000 at a 90 per cent rate of aid.

- Maximum of one proposal can be submitted by any local authority.

The deadline for applications for Measure One is June 30th, 2021. The deadline for applications for Measures Two, Three and the Project Development Measure is July 30th, 2021.