Councils around Ireland have just under three months to finalise pitches for greenway funding for the next three years.
A firm deadline of November 30 is only now known, although there have been plenty of warnings, including from Minister Shane Ross, telling councils to be prepared a number of times.
The funding call follows the recent launch of the Government’s Greenway Strategy, which seeks to give priority to building longer routes.
The strategy defines national greenways as routes which are at least 100 kilometres long and a regional greenway is “at least 20 kilometres in length, but preferably closer to 40 kilometres long, or which can be extended to connect to a longer strategic route”.
Routes will have to followed agreed standards and also have to form part of an strategic Greenway network, have significant potential to deliver an increase in activity tourism, provide a substantially segregated offroad experience linking places of internist, include opportunities for the development of local businesses and be developed using an agreed code of practice.
The funding amounts to €17 million per year — this might seem like little over one Waterford Greenway per year, although, this is usually blended with “matching funding” from councils which should extend the fund further.
Transport minister Shane Ross, said: “Greenways are one of the exciting developments to Irish tourism in recent time. For that reason, today, I am issuing a call for applications for €53 million of funding for greenways. Greenways offer a unique way to see our beautiful country and I am excited to see more develop in the coming years. Through this funding call we are looking to develop greenways of scale that are appropriately segregated from traffic and provide access to beautiful scenery.”
He said: “I am well aware that there is considerable pent-up demand for greenways around the country and I look forward to receiving many quality applications. I urge potential applicants to progress their planning and design of greenways, in cooperation with communities and land owners, as far as possible in advance of making any application for funding and to resolve any land access issues.”
Junior minister for tourism and sport, Brendan Griffin, said: “Having cycled the Great Western Greenway and the Waterford Greenway, I have seen at first hand the transformation that greenways can provide to our rural towns and villages, the job creation potential is significant and bringing people to parts of our country that they may not have considered visiting before is hugely beneficial in spreading tourism around all parts of the country.”
He added: “Activity Tourism is a huge focus for Ireland now and providing high quality walking and cycling infrastructure will assist in attracting the large number of foreign tourists interested in coming here.”
A statement from the Department of Transport, Sport and Tourism said: “The Application Form is based on the criteria set out in the Strategy and is available on the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport’s website. The closing date for completed application forms is November 30th.”
“Funding applications will be assessed following the closure of the application process and funding is likely to be awarded in the first half of 2019.”