This page has been designed to report debates and questions in the Irish Parliament 

( known as the Dáil ) on the issues of access to the countryside and outdoor recreation.

 

Dail Debates & Questions September 2017

(1)         Land Acquisition -  Dublin mountains

(2)   Coillte & Hellfire Club

(3)   Mountain Rescue – Funding Data

(4)   Rural Recreation Scheme – Funding

(5)  Planning Investigation – Donegal

(6)  Coillte – Hellfire Club

(7)  Land Reclassification – Designated lands

(8)  National Waymarked Ways – Increase/Funding

(9)  Planning Issues – Making a Complaint

(10) Recreation Facilities – Opportunities

(11)  Heritage Sites – Protection

(12)  Waterways – Data on length etc.  

 

 

(1)            Land Acquisition & Usage - Dublin Mountains         11th Sept 2017.

 730. Deputy John Lahart  Information on John Lahart  Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will report on the purchase by the State of the section of the Dublin Mountains; if the purchase has been completed; her plans for the land; the difference the State’s purchase of the land makes with regard to the future use of the land and the future of the general Dublin Mountains area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38590/17]

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys I assume that the Deputy is referring to the purchase last year of an area of 4,900 acres (or 1,983 hectares) at Glenasmole in the Dublin Uplands. My Department completed the purchase of this area , known popularly as the Featherbeds, at a cost of €800,000 in December 2016.  This land has been added to Wicklow Mountains National Park, expanding the total size of this National Park to some 22,000 hectares. The lands referred to are thus being managed as part of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

The Featherbeds are an important area for nature conservation and for public amenity. Their acquisition at a cost of approximately €163 per acre represents excellent value for the state, not just in terms of value for money but also in terms of the amenity potential, conservational benefits and environmental gains. The purchase underpins the Government’s on-going commitment to the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and visitors alike to enjoy. This outcome is the culmination of a constructive engagement between the Department and NAMA and addresses a long-standing strategy to align key environmental assets.

As the lands in question are located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) there are already constraints and obligations placed on landowners, as well as the State included, on how the lands are used. While the lands will be primarily managed for Nature Conservation, other uses such as recreation will be considered where compatible with the Park’s Nature Conservation objectives. Given the high conservation value and sensitivity of the Blanket Bog and Heathland habitats provision of high volume recreational uses with visitor facilities and other supporting infrastructure is unlikely. The National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department will work with Dublin Mountains Partnership to manage this new acquisition, reflecting the on-going commitment of all stakeholders to improve the recreational potential of this area whilst ensuring the highest standards of nature conservation.

In addition, the legal rights and burdens such as Grazing, Sporting and Turbary rights held by individuals have to be respected and will be considered within the management options available to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

(2)            Coillte Teoranta Activities – Hellfire Club – 11/9/17

 1382. Deputy John Lahart  Information on John Lahart  Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed the role of Coillte in the visitors' centre proposed by south Dublin county council in the Dublin mountains at the Hell Fire Club; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38591/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed Coillte was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of their forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.

The matter was, however, raised with Coillte who advise that the company is facilitating a proposal by South Dublin County Council to develop the Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre, a new “gateway” to the Dublin Mountains located at the combined Massy’s Wood and Montpelier Hill incorporating the Hell Fire Club site. Coillte advise that these lands are owned by Coillte.

Coillte added that the visitor centre will comprise a dedicated interpretative exhibition and educational facility as well as a café and shop, a rambler’s lounge and toilets and that there will be enhanced access to the site with increased car parking and public transport, road improvements and the construction of a new footpath to the site. The company also advise that the proposal will deliver improved quality and quantity of walks and trails for people of all ages and abilities incorporating a tree-top walkway/bridge from Montpelier Hill into Massy’s Wood, and provides for the enhancement of the mountain landscape around the visitor centre by replacing large areas of commercial coniferous forest on the eastern slopes of Montpelier Hill with broad-leaved woodland and predominantly indigenous native species.

 

 

(3)            Mountain Rescue Service – Funding Data – 11/9/17

 1545. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount allocated to mountain rescue for expenses by his Department in each of the past ten years; the mountain rescue teams to which this was allocated broken down by team; the policy of his Department on providing adequate funding for overhead costs to all mountain rescue teams into the future; his plans to seek the transfer of responsibility for mountain rescue to the Department of Rural and Community Development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37467/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I enclose a table which sets out the annual maintenance grant allocated to each Mountain Rescue Team by this Department for the past ten years. Mountain Rescue Ireland, the parent body for mountain rescue, also receives an annual development grant currently in the sum of €60,000. Funding needs will be kept under review by the Department. I have no plans to seek the transfer of responsibility for mountain rescue to the Department of Rural and Community Development.

ANNUAL MAINTENANCE GRANT - MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS

Mountain Rescue Teams

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Mountain Rescue Ireland

€28,137.72

€28,981.85

€28,981.85

€26,083.66

€18,520.00

Irish Cave Rescue Organisation

€28,137.72

€28,981.85

€28,981.85

€26,083.66

€18,520.00

Search and Rescue Dogs Association

€11,255.09

€11,592.74

€11,592.74

€10,433.46

€7,407.00

Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue

€22,510.18

€23,185.48

€23,185.48

€20,866.00

€14,815.00

Kerry Mountain Rescue

€22,510.18

€23,185.48

€23,185.48

€20,866.93

€14,815.00

Tramore Mountain Rescue

€5,627.54

€5,796.37

€5,796.37

€5,216.73

€3,704.00

South Eastern Mountain Rescue

€11,255.09

€11,592.74

€11,592.74

€10,433.46

€7,407.00

Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue

€22,510.18

€23,185.48

€23,185.48

€20,866.93

€14,815.00

Donegal Mountain Rescue

€11,255.09

€11,592.74

€11,592.74

€10,433.46

€7,407.00

Galway Mountain Rescue

€11,255.09

€11,592.74

€11,592.74

€10,433.46

€7,407.00

Mayo Mountain Rescue

€11,255.09

€11,592.74

€11,592.74

€10,433.46

€7,407.00

Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue

€11,255.09

€11,592.74

€11,592.74

€10,433.46

€7,407.00

Total Per Year

€196,964.06

€202,872.95

€202,872.95

€182,584.67

€129,631.00

Table cont

Mountain Rescue Teams

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Mountain Rescue Ireland

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

Irish Cave Rescue Organisation

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

€18,520.00

Search and Rescue Dogs Association

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

Kerry Mountain Rescue

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

Tramore Mountain Rescue

€3,704.00

€3,704.00

€3,704.00

€3,704.00

€3,704.00

€3,704.00

South Eastern Mountain Rescue

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

€14,815.00

Donegal Mountain Rescue

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

Galway Mountain Rescue

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

Mayo Mountain Rescue

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

€7,407.00

Total Per Year

€129,631.00

€129,631.00

€129,631.00

€129,631.00

€129,631.00

€129,631.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4)            Rural Recreation Scheme – Funding – 11/9/17

 1718. Deputy Carol Nolan  Information on Carol Nolan  Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring the number of applications and the amount of funding sought under the rural recreation scheme; the number of projects refused funding under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37283/17]

 1719. Deputy Carol Nolan  Information on Carol Nolan  Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring the number of applications for funding under the outdoor recreation infrastructure scheme, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37284/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring I propose to take Questions Nos. 1718 and 1719 together.

  The Rural Recreation Scheme was introduced as a formal programme in 2016 and was re-titled the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme in 2017. The scheme supports the development and promotion of new recreational facilities and the maintenance of existing recreational infrastructure throughout rural Ireland. 

  The 2017 scheme was launched last April, with applications invited under three Measures:

  Measure 1: Small Scale Maintenance/Promotion and Marketing 

  Measure 2: Medium Scale Repair/Upgrade and New Trail Development

  Measure 3: Large Scale Repair/Upgrade and New Strategy Trail Development 

  376 applications for funding were received under these Measures, with a total value in excess of €27 million. The table below outlines the number of applications received and the funding requested on a county basis. Some applications were also received from State bodies under Measure 3, in accordance with the provisions of the scheme.

  To date, 219 projects with a value of €11.4 million have been approved under the scheme under Measures 1 and 3, and these will be implemented over a 15 month period. Successful projects under Measure 2 have yet to be announced.

Details of the successful projects are available on my Department’s website at: 

 
http://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-development/rural-recreation/approved-schemes-2017/.

 The number of projects and funding approved each year is contingent on the budgetary provision available.

 

 

Measure 1

 

 

 

County

No. Applied

Amount Requested

No.

Approved

No. Unsuccessful

Carlow

5

€40,500

4

1

Cavan

2

€20,000

2

0

Clare

9

€83,917

6

3

Cork

15

€138,020

12

3

Donegal

9

€76,200

8

1

Dublin South

4

€40,000

3

1

Fingal

7

€70,846

4

3

Galway

6

€53,500

5

1

Kerry

15

€134,215

13

2

Kildare

0

€0

0

0

Kilkenny

6

€44,610

5

1

Laois

8

€51,860

8

0

Leitrim

13

€119,500

10

3

Limerick

15

€135,270

15

0

Longford

13

€105,159

12

1

Louth

1

€8,500

1

0

Mayo

17

€159,076

15

2

Meath

6

€52,000

6

0

Monaghan

15

€136,730

10

5

Offaly

5

€40,115

5

0

Roscommon

15

€118,041

15

0

Sligo

16

€137,990

15

1

Tipperary

7

€47,600

5

2

Waterford

9

€70,600

9

0

Westmeath

15

€149,310

15

0

Wexford

2

€16,450

1

1

Wicklow

6

€48,066

3

3

Inland Fisheries

 

 

 

0

Coillte

 

 

 

0

Udaras

 

 

 

0

Heritage Council

 

 

 

0

Total

241

€2,098,075

207

34



Table Cont

 

Measure 2

 

Measure 3

 

 

 

County

No. Applied

Amount Requested

No.

Applied

Amount Requested

No.

Approved

No.

Unsuccessful

Carlow

2

€159,000

1

€260,000

 

1

Cavan

4

€263,927

1

€597,310

1

0

Clare

4

€249,166

1

€1,000,000

 

1

Cork

4

€362,000

1

€1,000,000

1

0

Donegal

6

€348,400

1

€234,723

 

1

Dublin South

2

€200,000

1

€750,000

1

0

Fingal

4

€234,000

1

€200,000

 

1

Galway

7

€351,850

1

€137,040

 

1

Kerry

4

€383,920

1

€448,527

 

1

Kildare

0

€0

0

0

 

 

Kilkenny

4

€114,800

1

€250,630

 

1

Laois

3

€266,687

 

 

 

 

Leitrim

3

€300,000

1

€955,153

1

 

Limerick

3

€254,614

1

€1,000,000

 

1

Longford

5

€217,000

1

€350,000

1

 

Louth

4

€281,791

 

 

 

 

Mayo

9

€796,000

1

€984,000

1

 

Meath

4

€222,760

1

€1,000,000

 

1

Monaghan

6

€425,200

1

€370,525

 

1

Offaly

2

€200,000

1

€1,152,100

1

 

Roscommon

4

€228,728

 

 

 

 

Sligo

5

€289,452

1

€840,285

1

 

Tipperary

4

€260,296

1

€599,360

 

1

Waterford

3

€123,400

1

€199,000

 

1

Westmeath

4

€204,509

1

€784,324

1

 

Wexford

3

€224,394

1

€342,800

1

 

Wicklow

5

€332,200

1

€627,200

 

1

Inland Fisheries

 

 

1

€199,621

 

1

Coillte

 

 

1

€2,000,000

1

 

Udaras

 

 

1

€736,000

 

1

Heritage Council

 

 

1

€986,692

1

 

Total

108

€7,294,094

27

€18,005,290

12

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5)            Planning Investigations Donegal – On-going 11/9/17

 2043. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin  Information on Eoin Ó Broin  Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the status of a report with his Department into allegations of planning irregularities in County Donegal; if the report has been finalised and presented to him; the date on which he plans to publish the report; the action he will take both in County Donegal and generally as a result of the findings of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38269/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy):  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Senior Counsel has completed his review of certain planning matters in respect of Donegal County Council and a report was submitted to my Department on 12 June 2017.

My Department is currently reviewing and assessing the contents of the report with the aim of preparing a submission for my consideration as soon as possible. Legal advice has recently been received in relation to the matter of publication. Further legal advice has been requested in relation to the contents of the report. Once the relevant submission and legal advices have been considered, I will be in a position to make a decision on publication and to outline my response to the Report.

 

 

(6)            Coillte Teoranta Activities – Hellfire Club 26/9/2017

 414. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett  Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed if he will instruct Coillte to provide full and clear ownership and title deeds for Massey's Wood and the Hell Fire Club with regard to the current major development proposal for these sites; if he will instruct Coillte to provide all of the ecological and biodiversity studies and reports, including species lists and so on, that it has commissioned or conducted at these sites; if he will instruct Coillte to furnish its plans regarding ongoing management in respect of the pine weevil issue of the public forest estate when its cypermethrin derogation expires; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40369/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed Coillte was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of their forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.

The matter was, however, raised with Coillte, who advise that the Masseys Estate, including the Hellfire properties, are registered on Folio DN3540 while the Hell Fire Club is located on property number 28 on Folio DN3540, the title documents of which are available on the website of the Property Registration Authority of Ireland (www.prai.ie). Section 39 of the Forestry Act 1988 provided inter alia that all of the State’s forest estate, other than land designated by the Minister, stand vested in the company. Notwithstanding the vesting of the bulk of the State’s forest estate in Coillte upon its establishment, a lot of the land may still be registered in the name of one of my predecessors e.g. Minister for Lands.  Coillte advise that the company is entitled to act as the registered owner as successor in title to the Minister under the Forestry Act.

In relation to the other material requested, Coillte advise that listed habitats and species relating to these properties, and others within that Business Area Unit (BAU 5), are listed in the relevant BAU Strategic Plan, available on Coillte’s website.

Coillte advised that the company received a derogation for the use of cypermethrin for control of large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) in certified forest plantations in Ireland, provided that during the derogation period the certificate holder adheres to conditions as set out by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). I am advised that it is Coillte’s policy that cypermethrin will not be applied in the company’s forests from the period at the end of the derogation, March 2021.

The company add that, as the major landowner in the country, it recognises the importance of the responsible use of pesticides in its woodlands and confirms that it will use only those pesticides authorised for use in Ireland by the Pesticides Registration and Control Division (PRCD) of my Department.

Coillte advise that it operates an integrated pest management system with primary reliance upon prevention and biological control methods rather than chemical pesticides, and that it strives to avoid the use of chemical pesticides, by firstly considering control methods other than chemicals.

I am advised by Coillte that the company’s overall strategy for the five year period of the derogation is to develop and adopt prescriptions for control of large pine weevil on evidence based population assessments.  I am also advised that this involves different prescriptions for low, medium and high density population sites where with timing of planting and the pre-treatment of plants in nurseries the use of pesticides on low and medium density populations may not, dependent on ongoing monitoring, be required. On high density population sites Coillte envisage that some form of pesticide application for control of weevil will be required.  I understand that field trials and research are continuing on alternative pesticides (authorised by PRCD) to cypermethrin where focus in this area of research is on pre-treatment that could give two year protection to plants thus eliminating requirement for application in the forest.

Coillte advise me that Ireland, in common with the UK, has weevil population densities of up to seven times that recorded in Europe and that the company work in collaboration with their colleagues in Forest Enterprise Scotland, Forest Enterprise England, Natural Resources Wales and Northern Ireland Forest Service with expertise provided from Forestry Commission Forest Research Branch.  I understand that, over the past number of years, the group established trials to identify alternative treatments for Hylobius, researching and trialling alternative chemicals to cypermethrin, barriers (wax and paper sleeves), biological control through nematodes and non-chemical substance barriers and development of a Hylobius Management Support System.

Coillte further add that it also collaborates with Irish research organisations in order to develop non-chemical pest control products, such as research with the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM) on biological control methods like entomopathogenic nematode and entomopathogenic fungi and will continue to review and evaluate non-chemical alternatives as they become available.

 

 

(7)            Land Reclassification - Designated lands – 26/9/2017

 431. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae  Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to provide proper compensation for designated land in relation to which restrictions impact on farm income and development potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40429/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed At the outset, I would like to clarify that my Department has no role in the designation of lands.  That function is exercised through the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.  The question of compensation does not arise, therefore, in the context of any schemes or measures introduced by my Department. That said, many of these designations are for species or habitats whose conservation is encouraged under various schemes operated by my Department, such as GLAS, the Burren Programme or some of the newer locally-led schemes being rolled out at present like the Hen Harrier Scheme. Farmers in these areas have an opportunity to avail of a range of support packages under these schemes which can provide an important additional income stream for those affected.

 

 

(8)            National Way Marked Ways – Increase/Funding 26/9/17

 494. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae  Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring if he will provide an increase to 80 in the number of walks in the walks scheme and an increase in the allocation to €4 million which is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40432/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring A key feature of the Walks Scheme is that it involves land-holders as key participants in the provision of high quality walking trails by contracting them to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Way Marked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. The land-holders receive modest payments for maintenance work undertaken in line with agreed work plans.

A total of 39 trails are currently covered by the scheme and the number of participants on the scheme stands at 1,904. Payments made by my Department in 2017 in respect of the scheme will be in the region of €1.8 million and will be disbursed through the Local Development Company network.

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to double the number of walks covered by the Walks Scheme. My officials are working towards this objective. However, as significant consultation will be required, both with land-holders and other stakeholders, it is unlikely that any increase in the number of walks covered by the scheme will be implemented until 2018. The provision of additional funding to support the scheme will be a matter for consideration as part of the annual Estimates process.

 

 

(9)            Planning Issues – Making a Complaint – 26/9/17

 535. Deputy Niall Collins  Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the body with which a person can lodge a complaint against a local authority that is acting in breach of planning permission on a building in its ownership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40439/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy):  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy If any person considers that they have been adversely affected by a planning authority's action, or lack of action, which he or she considers was unlawful, unfair or unreasonable, or considers that he or she has received an inadequate service from the authority, it is open to him/her to make a complaint to the Ombudsman, provided that he or she has complained to the planning authority in the first instance. The Ombudsman's role in planning matters is confined to the examination of the administration of the planning process by planning authorities and to their enforcement of the planning laws in instances where planning breaches arise.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement issue, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

 

 

 

(10)            Recreational Facilities Provision – Opportunities 27/9

 72. Deputy Tony McLoughlin  Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on the way in which Waterways Ireland can support recreational opportunities in rural counties through the development of blueways and greenways; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40717/17]

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys Waterways Ireland is responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of 1,000 km of the inland navigable waterway system throughout the island, principally for recreational purposes.  This is a significant recreational resource and Waterways Ireland has been proactive in the development of Blueways and Greenways as a means to attract new visitors and in response to the growth for recreational activities such as walking, canoeing and cycling.

Waterways Ireland with partners in Monaghan County Council, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and East Border Region Ltd. are currently in the development phase of constructing a 22km greenway between Smithborough in Co. Monaghan and Middletown in Co. Armagh along the route of the Ulster Canal.  The project is funded by the INTERREG VA programme and will be one of the first cross-border Greenways in Ireland.

Blueways have been successfully in operation on the Shannon since October 2014 linking Drumshanbo with Carrick-on-Shannon. Waterways Ireland recently opened an iconic Blueways Boardwalk on Acres Lake at Drumshanbo which is already attracting large volumes of users.  The Shannon-Erne Blueway was opened in May 2016 linking Leitrim Village with Belturbet, Co Cavan, providing 70km of paddling journeys, 25km of walking trails and 8 km of cycling. Waterways Ireland, in conjunction with Local Authorities and other partners, are continuing to extend the Blueways offering on the Shannon and Shannon-Erne.

On the Barrow navigation, Waterways Ireland have submitted planning proposals to upgrade the Barrow towpath.  This will provide a 112km trail from Lowtown in Co. Kildare to St Mullins in Co Carlow. 

Work on developing the Royal Canal towpath as a walking and cycling destination is expected to be completed by December 2018 when the 145km route can be marketed as one of the largest Greenways/Blueways in Europe.

On the Grand Canal 21km of towpath has been upgraded with a further 110km yet to be completed.  Waterways Ireland are again working with Local Authorities, Leader Groups, the National Transport Authority and the National Trails Office to ensure planning and funding are progressed to upgrade all of the Grand Canal towpath.

Clearly, the development of greenways and blueways presents valuable opportunities for rural communities to attract more visitors. Their value lies not only in the recreational opportunities that they offer but also in their potential to stimulate local businesses and regenerate local areas. Greenways and blueways  also provide an effective model for partnership between the private, community and voluntary sectors and relevant State bodies.

 

(11)            Heritage Sites – Protection – 27/9/17

 129. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys the extent to which her Department continues to ensure the protection of listed sites and buildings for the benefit of future generations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40926/17]

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys My role, as Minister, with regard to the protection and management of our built heritage is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the role of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners as regards heritage assets. 

  Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including relevant structures on the Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.


My Department also maintains the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH), a State initiative to identify, record, and evaluate the post-1700 architectural heritage of Ireland, uniformly and consistently as an aid in the protection and conservation of the built heritage. I recommend structures rated as being of regional importance or above to the planning authorities for inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures.    However, the making of an addition to, or a deletion from, a Record of Protected Structures is a reserved function of the relevant planning authorities.

  Financial support is provided by my Department through a number of structured schemes for the conservation and protection of heritage buildings. These schemes are administered via the local authorities and include the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Structures at Risk Fund. 

  Under the provisions of the National Monuments Acts 1930-2014, my Department has established and maintains the Record of Monuments and Places, which affords legal protection to over 120,000 recorded archaeological sites and monuments in the State. Anyone proposing works to a monument that is included in the Record of Monument and Places must give my Department two months prior notice before works can start.

  As Minister, I am the owner or guardian under the National Monuments Acts of approximately 1,000 national monuments located at approximately 750 sites and in such cases there is a statutory duty to maintain the national monument. Such maintenance is undertaken by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Local authorities are responsible under the National Monuments Acts for maintaining the national monuments of which they are owners or guardians. 

  My Department is providing €350,000 of funding to the OPW in 2017 to assist in the conservation and presentation of historic buildings and national monuments in State ownership. My Department’s National Monuments Service works in close collaboration with the OPW on survey, excavation and research work to optimise the protection, management, interpretation and presentation of national monuments in State care.

  The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports annually, having regard to competing priorities for limited resources. Grant schemes for 2017 are advertised by the Heritage Council on its website
www.heritagecouncil.ie.

 

 

 

(12)            Waterways Issues – Distance Covered – 28/9/17

 279. Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Timmy Dooley  Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of kilometres of river channels here. [41153/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy):  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Environmental Protection Agency, in its recently published report Water Quality in Ireland 2010 - 2015 (available at:  http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/water/waterqua/waterqualityinireland2010-2015.html),states that Ireland has more than 70,000 kilometres of river channel.

 

 

 

Dail Debates & Questions July 2017

 

(1)         National Parks Projects

(2)         Planning Data – Section 5 Declarations

(3)         Planning Issues – Donegal

(4)         Coillte Lands

(5)         Greenway Development – Athlone/Galway

 (6)   Tourism Funding/Promotion - Donegal

(1) National Parks Projects – 13 July 2017

 454. Deputy Catherine Martin  Information on Catherine Martin  Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys the timeframe for management plans to be published for Glenveagh, Burren, Connemara and Ballycroy national parks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34838/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys In May 2017, I decided to broaden the scope of the Draft Burren National Park Visitor and Traffic Management Plan to include Nature Conservation. The Plan has now become the Burren National Park Management Plan and is in draft form for consideration by my officials. I intend also to produce a Management Plan for the Kerry Biosphere Reserve in the context of the recent UNESCO designation. The Department’s short term focus is on conservation objectives for Natura 2000 sites and as such there are no immediate plans to produce management plans for Ballycroy, Glenveagh, Connemara or Wicklow Mountains National Parks. My Department intends however to produce visitor and management plans for its National Parks on an on-going basis subject to the availability of resources. In this context the Deputy will note that in February of this year the Taoiseach formally announced a Strategic Partnership with Fáilte Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department. One major output of this partnership will be a Tourism Interpretation Masterplan. Work has already commenced on this and the consultants are due to report in the last quarter or 2017. The partnership aims to achieve the shared goal of further developing quality visitor experiences at Ireland’s 6 National Parks and Nature Reserves.

 

(2) Planning Data – Section 5 Declarations – 13 July 2017

 1295. Deputy Barry Cowen  Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the estimated number of section 5 declarations given by each local authority in the latest year available; and the estimated number nationally each year. [33996/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy):  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Planning statistics are compiled by each planning authority on an annual basis for collation and publication on my Department’s website at the following link:

 
 http://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/statistics/planning-statistics-1.

  These statistics include data in respect of each authority on planning applications received, the number of invalid applications, decisions to grant or refuse permission etc.  However, the statistics gathered do not include information of the type referred to by the Deputy in respect of the number of section 5 declarations issued.

  However, section 5(5) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, requires that details of any declaration issued by a planning authority, or of a decision by the Board on referral, must be placed on the planning register and be available for public inspection.  These can be accessed through the websites of the relevant local authority, or An Bord Pleanála, as appropriate.

 

(3) Planning Issues – Donegal – 13th July 2017

 1305. Deputy Barry Cowen  Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the status of the senior counsel investigation into certain planning matters in County Donegal; the timeframe involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34245/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy):  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Senior Counsel has completed his review of certain planning matters in respect of Donegal County Council and a report was submitted to my Department on 12 June 2017.

My Department is currently reviewing and assessing the contents of the report with the aim of preparing a submission for me as soon as possible. Legal advice has been sought in relation to the matter of publication. Once the relevant submission and any legal advices have been considered, I will be in a position to consider the matter further.

 

(4) Coillte Teoranta Lands – 26th July 2017

 1206. Deputy Niamh Smyth  Information on Niamh Smyth  Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed the status of the sale of a village (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36032/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed Coillte was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of their forest estate and land transactions, are the responsibility of the company.

The matter was, however, raised with Coillte who advise that a sales contract for the sale of Killykeen Holiday Complex in County Cavan was completely finalised when the final contract was agreed and signed with CABÜ in May 2017. Coillte also advise that, as stated in their press announcement of 10 May 2017, CABÜ hope to open this holiday destination for visitors by April 2018 with a view to developing the site further over a period of three years.

 

(5) Greenways Development–Athlone/Galway – 26th July 2017

 1368. Deputy Robert Troy  Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the greenway west of Athlone. [35801/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​As the Deputy will be aware, concerns were expressed by a number of landowners in Galway following the publication of the initial 'preferred route' identified for the Greenway from Athlone to Galway and my predecessor instructed Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and Galway County Council to consult landowners along the route in relation to their concerns.  Following the publication of the TII report on these consultations, a decision was taken in late 2015 to pause development of the Greenway west of Athlone to allow all stakeholders to consider how best to progress this project.  It is now recognised that the approach taken initially in relation to the preferred route was sub-optimal and lessons have been learned from that experience.

My Department recently completed a public consultation process to inform the development of a Strategy for the future development of greenways in Ireland.  The objective of the new strategy will be to set out a cohesive and forward looking approach to the development, funding and promotion of greenways generally. The issues affecting the delivery of a greenway between Athlone and Galway will be among those considered.

  A substantial number of submissions have been received by my Department in response to the public consultation process. I was  pleased with the level of interest shown by private 

citizens and stakeholders alike whose views will now be considered in the coming weeks and months as the strategy is being developed.

Details of the submissions received will be available in the public domain in due course.

 

(6) Tourism Project Funding – Donegal – 26th July 2017

 1398. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher  Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans for developing marine tourism in County Donegal; the way in which such plans could easily supplement the success of the Wild Atlantic Way; his strategy to maximise the marine tourism potential for coastal counties; the timeframe for its implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36125/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin):  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin My Department's role in relation to tourism lies primarily in the area of national tourism policy.  It is not directly involved in the management or development of individual tourism projects, such as the development of individual strategies to promote marine or other tourism products such as the Wild Atlantic Way.  These are operational matters for the Board and Management of Fáilte Ireland.

 Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply to the Deputy.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

Also if the deputy has any specific suggestions or idea's I would gladly meet with him to discuss them with him.

 

Tourism Promotion

 1399. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher  Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans for developing tourism on off shore islands and especially in County Donegal; his strategy to increase visitor numbers to the islands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36126/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin):  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin My Department's role in relation to tourism lies primarily in the area of developing national tourism policy, while the tourism agencies have operational responsibility for the implementation of this policy. The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for the boards and management of the two tourism agencies - Tourism Ireland in regard to overseas tourism marketing and Fáilte Ireland in regard to regional tourism development and domestic tourism promotion.

Accordingly I have referred the Deputy's question to the two tourism agencies for direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Also if the deputy has any specific suggestions or ideas I would gladly meet with him to discuss them with him. 

 

 

  Dail Debates & Questions June 2017

 

(1)            Social Media Regulation

(2)            Rural Recreation Promotion 2017

(3)            Rural Recreational - Greenways

(4)            Commonage Land - Usage

(5)            Greenway Funding – Tralee/Fenit

(6)            Planning Investigation - Donegal

(7)            Greenway Provision - Dublin

(8)            Greenway Development – Provision for Dual Usage

 

 

 

(1)            Social Media Regulation – 1st June 2017

 216. Deputy Brendan Smith  Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment  Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten his views on recent commentary by an organisation (details supplied) in respect of the lack of regulation among some social media platforms; the measures he plans to implement to deal with such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26353/17]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten):  Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten As Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, I have certain responsibilities in relation to the broadcast media in Ireland as provided for in the Broadcasting Act 2009. I have no specific statutory responsibility for print media.

The Deputy will be aware that there are a number of pieces of legislation and regulations currently in place which social media platforms must comply with, such as those governing Data Protection or illegal content such as child sexual abuse material.

  In relation to harmful content, which is not illegal, the policy responsibility is shared across a number of Departments but primarily the Departments of Justice & Equality, Children and Youth Affairs, Education and Skills, Health and my own Department. 

The Law Reform Commission's Harmful Communications and Digital Safety report, which was published in September 2016 recommended the reform of Criminal law to include a number of new offences including online harassment. In December 2016, the Minister for Justice and Equality received Government approval to draft the heads of a Bill, along the lines of the draft legislation contained in the LRC's report.


Separate to the reform of Criminal Law, the Law Reform Commission also recommended that an independent office of a Digital Safety Commissioner be established to promote safety online and oversee efficient take-down procedures to ensure that harmful communications be removed as quickly as possible.

  I have indicated that I will discuss this recommendation with my colleagues, the Minister for Justice & Equality and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and the matter has also been referred by Government to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Sector Reform.

  Finally, I should mention that it is expected that my Department will begin work next year on transposing the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive into Irish law once that Directive has been adopted.  The draft Directive, which is now entering trilogue discussions between Council, Parliament and the Commission, will introduce a requirement for Video Sharing Platform Services to put in place appropriate measures to ensure that users, especially minors, are protected from certain types of harmful content, including hate speech and content which incites terrorism.

(2)            Rural Recreation Promotion 2017 – 20th June 2017

 75. Deputy Martin Heydon  Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys the position regarding the 2017 rural recreation programme; her views on the potential to develop new tourism amenities such as a location (details supplied) in County Kildare through this programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27573/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys The 2017 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme was launched on 28th April 2017 as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development. The scheme will provide funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure or the necessary maintenance, enhancement or promotion of existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in Ireland. Building on the 2016 Rural Recreation Scheme, the 2017 scheme has been enhanced and will provide funding of €11 million over a period of 15 months under the following measures:

Measure 1: Small Scale Maintenance/Promotion and Marketing

Measure 2: Medium Scale Repair/Upgrade and New Trail Development

Measure 3: Large Scale Repair/Upgrade and New Strategy Trail Development 

The closing date for receipt of applications under Measures 1 and 2 was 31st May 2017 and the closing date for Measure 3 applications was 16th  June 2017. 

Projects such as the amenity mentioned by the Deputy would be eligible for funding under Measure 3. However, no application has been received in respect of the amenity in question under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme on this occasion. 

Nonetheless, I am aware that there are a number of towns and villages along the amenity that provide a range of services and facilities to visitors and I believe that continued development of the amenity will serve to support the economic development of the area as a whole.

 

(3)Rural Recreation Promotion 2017 - Greenways 20th June

 112. Deputy Peter Burke  Information on Peter Burke  Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans to expand the rural recreation programme in view of the increase in popularity of greenways and blueways; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27444/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Action Plan for Rural Development acknowledges the increasing popularity of recreational and activity tourism and includes a series of actions to maximise Ireland’s rural tourism and recreation potential. The 2017 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme was launched on 28th   April 2017 and will provide funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure or the necessary maintenance, enhancement or promotion of existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in Ireland. Building on the 2016 Rural Recreation Scheme, the 2017 scheme has been enhanced and will provide funding of €11 million over a period of 15 months under the following measures:

Measure 1: Small Scale Maintenance/Promotion and Marketing

Measure 2: Medium Scale Repair/Upgrade and New Trail Development

Measure 3: Large Scale Repair/Upgrade and New Strategy Trail Development

Details of the scheme are available at: www.ahrrga.gov.ie/minister-ring-launches-e11-million-outdoor-recreation-infrastructure-scheme-for-2017/

The deadline for submission of applications under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme has just passed. A large number of applications have been received and will be assessed by my Department. The successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible following the assessment process.   

 The all-island body Waterways Ireland, which is co-funded by my Department, is responsible for the management, maintenance, development, and restoration of inland navigable waterways, primarily for recreational purposes. The body is responsible for developing and promoting Blueways on the Royal, Grand and Barrow Canals, and on the Shannon Navigation to expand their recreational and tourism offering. Waterways Ireland will make a capital investment of €6 million in Blueways over the period 2017-2019. 

  My Department also supports the ongoing maintenance of established walking trails all over Ireland through the Walks Scheme. A total of 39 trails are currently covered by the scheme. The Programme for a Partnership Government and the Action Plan for Rural Ireland include a commitment to double the walks scheme during the lifetime of the Government and officials in my Department are currently examining ways in which this can be progressed. 

  Overall responsibility for policy and development of Greenways rests with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. The Minister recently launched a public consultation process on a “Strategy for the Future Development of Greenways”, details of which can be found at
www.dttas.ie/publications.

 

 

(3)            Recreational Facilities – Access to Canals -20th June

 945. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan  Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on the more efficient use of canals as tourism resources; her plans to increase accessibility to the Royal Canal from the Liffey basin, which is currently experiencing accessibility problems due to limited lifting of the Scherzer bridge; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22133/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys Waterways Ireland manages over 400km of canals, the Royal and Grand Canals and Barrow Navigation. These are important publicly owned recreational corridors which support a wide range of boating and water sports. The canal towpaths represent opportunities for both local communities and tourists to enjoy off-road cycling and walking whilst enjoying the built and natural heritage of these important resources. Waterways Ireland has informed me that it has been working in partnership with a wide range of Local Authorities, Fáilte Ireland, the National Roads Authority, the National Trails Office and local communities to develop and enhance the towpaths along the canals in its care.

60 km of the proposed Dublin to Galway Greenway runs along the Royal Canal towpath, where the local authorities and the National Transport Authority have been key to supporting completion of this development.

 

In Dublin a programme to upgrade the towpaths into premium walking and cycleways has been on-going for a number of years. The towpaths provide invaluable opportunities for off road commuting and recreation and are unique green spaces in the city.

In 2016, a number of cycle paths and towpath upgrades were carried out along the Royal Canal in Counties Longford, and Kildare. By the end of 2017, Waterways Ireland will have completed upgrades of 80% of the Royal Canal towpath.

It is Waterways Ireland's goal to upgrade the towpaths along the entire route of the Royal and Grand Canals making it possible to leave Dublin and travel the 140km along either canal to reach the Shannon and also to connect the towpaths to the many amenities and attractions along these routes. The aim is to create new opportunities for all the communities who live along the canals to use theses amenities on a daily basis and to attract visitors to make an extended journey.

 

Waterways Ireland’s through its Dublin Docklands Action Plan is seeking to develop Grand Canal Dock and Spencer Dock as the city's Blue space and a focal point in a Dublin Water Quarter. Projects include delivery of a 40km city canal Blueway using the Docks, and the Grand and Royal Canals as a cycle route.

The Sherza bridges are not connected to the canal navigation or access to the Royal Canal and do not impinge on the use of the canal. The Newcomen Bridge, which is a railway bridge, has to be lifted to provide navigation to the Royal Canal once through Spencer Dock. These bridge lifts are facilitated by CIE and Waterways Ireland. The number of bridge lifts is kept under review, balancing demand against the significant costs involved

 

 

(4)            Commonage Land Use – 20th June 2017

 1636. Deputy Willie Penrose  Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed the criteria being employed by his Department for land eligibility inspections on commonage and upland areas; the criteria the inspectors are employing in determining the eligibility of lands affected by the birds and habitats directive on designated Natura 2000 sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27671/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed For land, including commonage and upland areas, to be eligible for the various area-based schemes it must be “agricultural area” or “agricultural land”. This is clearly stated in the booklet “A Guide to Land Eligibility” which my Department issued to all farmers in 2015. The booklet describes the type of land that is agricultural area/land and the type of land that is not agricultural area/land. There has been no change in the treatment of commonage and upland areas since the publication of this booklet in 2015.   A copy of the booklet is available on the Department website -  

  http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingschemesandpayments/basicpaymentscheme/LandEligibility2015Booklet010515.pdf

  The booklet also details the provision, set out in the EU regulations governing the area-based schemes, where areas have become ineligible and this is due to compliance with the requirements of the birds and habitats directives. This provision prescribes specific criteria whereby such land may be deemed eligible for payment and can only apply to agricultural land that has not been abandoned.

 

(5)            Greenways Funding –Tralee/Fenit – 27th June 2017

 517. Deputy Martin Ferris  Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the proposed Tralee to Fenit greenway; when funding will be provided to complete the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30057/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​Kerry County Council was awarded €345,000 by my Department under the Government Stimulus package 2014 to commence the Rock Street to Casement Station section of the Tralee to Fenit greenway, and this was paid.

The Programme for Partnership Government commits to making additional funding available for greenways into the future, and I am pursuing this in the context of the mid-term review of the Capital Plan. When the capital plan review is finalised and there is clarity on the totality of the funding that will be available for greenways in the coming years, my Department will issue further funding calls and local authorities would then be able to submit projects for funding The Deputy may be aware that I recently launched a public consultation process to inform the development of my Department's new Strategy for the future development of greenways. A public consultation paper is available on my Department's website at http://www.dttas.ie/public-transport/publications/english/greenways. All interested parties are invited to make submissions by 14 July, 2017 and I would welcome your views as part of this process.

(6)Planning Investigations – Donegal -27th June 2017

 613. Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if he has received the final report of the review into allegations of planning irregularities in County Donegal; if so, if he will publish it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29755/17]

 626. Deputy Thomas Pringle  Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when he expects the Mulcahy report into allegations made concerning planning matters in County Donegal to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29992/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy):  Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 613 and 626 together.

Senior Counsel has completed his review of certain planning matters in respect of Donegal County Council and a report was submitted to my Department on 12 June, 2017.

My Department is currently reviewing and assessing the contents of the report with the aim of preparing a submission for me as soon as possible. Legal advice has been sought in relation to the matter of publication. Once the relevant submission and any legal advices have been considered, I will be in a position to make a decision on the matter.

(7)            Greenways Provision – Dublin – 28th June 2017

 26. Deputy Eamon Ryan  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his views on the introduction of six proposed greenways, namely. the Liffey, Santry, Bray to Balbriggan, Clontarf to city centre, River Dodder and canal loop routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [30397/17]

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan Our transport emissions are rising. The most recent CSO figures show that Dublin continues, despite all our efforts, towards an unsustainable transport system. Road deaths of cyclists have doubled over the past year. In the 2018 budget, will the Minister invest in and deliver by the end of 2020 the Liffey, Santry, Bray to Balbriggan, Clontarf to city centre, River Dodder and canal greenway loops? These are all currently in design or planning stages. Given the huge benefits they would bring to the city, will the Minister afford them priority and give a commitment to deliver them?

 

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank the Deputy for his question. It is an important one and I know it is of particular importance to him in the area in which he operates in Dublin.

The National Transport Authority, NTA, is responsible for the development of public transport and sustainable transport infrastructure projects in the greater Dublin area, GDA.  The six cycle schemes identified by the Deputy form part of the greenway network of the GDA cycle network plan, which was published by the NTA in 2014.

Work is currently ongoing on a number of elements of those schemes by means of funding provided from my Department's sustainable transport measures grants programme. Sections of the Royal Canal greenway are under construction at present.  A section of the east coast trail through Clontarf, also known as the Sutton to Sandycove scheme and referred to by the Deputy in his question as the Bray to Balbriggan scheme, opened to the public last month. Design work is ongoing on the Liffey cycle route and a number of possible schemes relating to its implementation have been discussed by Dublin City Council

 

The NTA recently launched the BusConnects project which proposes a radical transformation of the bus system in the greater Dublin area.  The BusConnects project has, as a key component, the implementation of safe cycling facilities along the main bus corridors proposed for improvement which will form the core bus network.  As part of that project, it is intended that cyclists will be provided with safe cycling facilities along each of these core bus network corridors, largely segregated from other vehicular traffic.  Delivering those routes to completion will represent an unprecedented uplift in the quality of cycling facilities in Dublin.

A number of the listed greenways will be progressed in tandem with the larger upgrading being implemented through the BusConnects project. The individual schemes and sections of routes to be progressed each year will be determined by the NTA in line with available funding. As the Deputy is aware, a mid-term review of the capital plan is under way and I am seeking additional funding for public transport and other sustainable modes in that context.

 

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, was at the national economic dialogue today where he said that the entire Government will have to shift its thinking to act on climate. Will the Minister go to him with these six projects? There is a whole range of different things we could do, but these six greenways would give rise to huge benefits. The Liffey route would be 6 km long between the Phoenix Park and the port. If we got the same increase in capacity that we saw with the canal network, we would have a 50% increase in the numbers cycling and that then would be the dominant mode of transport on the quays and would bring about huge transport benefits.

 

If we invested a relatively small amount of money in the Santry greenway, we would, using existing parkland resources, connect schools, sports facilities and workplaces. The same applies in respect of the other greenways. These are incredible connecting devices. If we built the Sutton to Sandycove route, which I would extend to Bray and Balbriggan because I think the people of those towns deserve it, that coastal route would be an incredible leisure as well as commuting facility. It would be a huge tourist draw for this city.

These are facilities that benefit those who walk and cycle. We concentrate on the greenways because, more than anything else, they would see Dublin develop as a green city, using the incredible resources that we have, namely, our coast, canals and rivers. Will the Minister prioritise this? Will he go to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, and ask for the money for this particular project? At the moment, for all the good talk, there is no money to do it in the timeframe and with the urgency required. Will the Minister push that as a package in the revised capital plan?

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me just say that the Deputy is not the only person in this House who has a passion for greenways.

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan I know.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross This kind of monopoly which he claims on greenways, particularly in the Dublin area, does not exist.

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Minister could support them.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross There are people with real passion for greenways in this House, all of whom have as good a case as the Deputy for their greenways, some of which cannot be done or provided for.

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan What can-----

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me answer the Deputy's question. I ask him not to interrupt

Acting Chairman (Deputy Declan Breathnach):  Information on Declan Breathnach  Zoom on Declan Breathnach The Minister, without interruption.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I did not interrupt the Deputy and I have no intention of interrupting doing so. I never interrupt regardless of whether he is in full flow or not.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Declan Breathnach):  Information on Declan Breathnach  Zoom on Declan Breathnach Minister, through the Chair please.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me say this to the Deputy about these greenways. On the Grand Canal cycleway from Blackhorse to Portobello, an allocation of €60,000 has been provided to Dublin City Council this year in order to complete the preliminary design necessary to progress the scheme to Part 8 planning approval. On the Dodder greenway, an allocation of €500,000 has been provided to Dublin City Council to develop and progress sections of the route. Part 8 planning approval for the Dodder flood alleviation works between Herbert Park and Anglesea Bridge, with which the Deputy will be familiar, is expected in the third quarter of this year, with detailed design, tender preparation and construction to follow.

Dublin City Council has commenced feasibility and preliminary design work on a section of the route located to the rear of Milltown golf club between Orwell Road and Churchtown, with which both I and the Deputy are familiar. I will deal with the Royal Canal later.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Declan Breathnach):  Information on Declan Breathnach  Zoom on Declan Breathnach Deputy Eamon Ryan has a final supplementary question.

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan No one has a monopoly on the benefits of greenways. Everyone can see those benefits. They are seen in different parts of the country. We need them everywhere. There is an opportunity, urgency and requirement to transform and improve our city in order to save lives and improve emissions reductions, commuting times and leisure facilities and for us to really make a bold statement. To do that, funding allocations need to go beyond €60,000 here and €500,000 there. This needs to be packaged into one big capital project whereby we get high-quality design, certainty around speed of delivery and a real public and international win. People would see our capital start to become a model green city.

I am not saying that we have a monopoly on that. However, I am saying that the Minister has the opportunity and, I believe, the responsibility, particularly as a Deputy representing some of the areas that would benefit from it, to grasp this opportunity to put them together and to show leadership and say that we will do it. I will thank the Minister and commend him just as much as anyone else. However, I do not want to see a continuation of the current system whereby bits and bobs of work are carried out here and there but there is no real clear commitment or big-bang approach. The latter is something which I believe we need. If we did that, it would transform our city and it would transform cycling. It is time to do it. There are many other actions we need to take but this project would shift the entire debate and the sense of where the city is going, which is why I am passionate about it.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Declan Breathnach):  Information on Declan Breathnach  Zoom on Declan Breathnach Níor chuala mé ceist ar bith.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I would like to thank the Deputy in advance for his thanks, which obviously will be coming. It will be a new feeling and a great feeling of warmth.

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan There will be lots of love.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I anticipate it with great glee. However, I cannot promise that any particular greenway will get preference at the expense of others. I sympathise with the Deputy and support what he says. Of course I do, and he knows I do, but he knows full well that there are massive financial constraints as well. There will not be any special pleading for my constituency, which the Deputy mentioned, or anyone else's, including the Deputy's, because we have preferences for that.

In recent days we have done a great deal of work in meetings we have had on cycling. We acknowledge the need for greenways and safety in cycling and we are taking action, as a matter of great urgency, on the deaths in cycling. We recognise these things. It is a good thing that Deputy Ryan makes those pleadings but he should not accuse us of not being sympathetic or supportive of what he is doing as we work within the constraints imposed upon us.

Deputy Eamon Ryan:  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan May I make a brief supplementary point?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Declan Breathnach):  Information on Declan Breathnach  Zoom on Declan Breathnach No. If I let Deputy Ryan in, I have to let everyone else in. Everyone is concerned about greenways in every part of the country and would like to see them developed

 

(8)            Greenways Development - Dual Usage – 28th June

 230. Deputy Eamon Ryan  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the analysis his Department has done regarding the dual use of greenways by pedestrians and cyclists; and the way to best facilitate both groups in using greenways. [30398/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​Greenways are designed to be used by and usable by as many people as possible. Transport Infrastructure Ireland have developed guidelines for Rural Cycle Scheme Design: these guidelines also reference Greenways. Projects funded by this Department must comply with these guidelines, or in the case of urban based greenways, with the Cycle Manual and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS). These designs include a requirement to have the gradient of the Greenway limited to 5% and are thus suitable for cyclists but also make for very attractive walking routes.

The experience on completed Greenways is that near towns and villages pedestrians significantly outnumber cyclists, by up to a factor of 2 to 1, whilst on the more remote sections these figures reverse and cyclists outnumber pedestrians to the same degree. The great strengths of Greenways are that they are multi-functional and provide access for all. Most Greenways are suitable for those in wheelchairs and pushing buggies and prams.

Signage on both the Waterford Greenway and the Old Rail Trail in County Westmeath has a code of conduct for all users that should be heeded. The importance of sharing the route with all users is emphasised and use of a bell by cyclists to alert pedestrians to their presence is recommended. Experience to date has been very positive for all users.

The public consultation document on Greenways is currently live and I would hope the Deputy will submit his thoughts before the closing date of July 14th.  The consultation paper is available on my Department's website.  We are interested in receiving a wide input of views from the public and interested parties in order to inform the development of future strategy in relation to this matter.

 

Dail Debates & Questions April 2017

(1)            Land Ownership – Foreshore Issues

(2)            Planning Issues

 

(1)            Land Ownership _ Foreshore Ownership

 302. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae  Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney the details of the ownership of land (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16039/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney):  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney As I previously indicated in the reply to Question No. 249 of 21 June 2016, the area in question appears to be reclaimed foreshore and all of Ireland's foreshore is considered to be owned by the State, unless valid alternative title is provided.

Correspondence from Solicitors for the persons named, replying to a letter from my Department that issued in May 2016, was received on 27 March 2017. My Department will respond directly to that correspondence in the very near future again seeking details on how the area came to be reclaimed.  

(2)            Planning Issues – Enforcement – 5th April 2017

 212. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan  Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on whether the current regime in planning effectively allows developers a free hand once planning permission is granted, without any meaningful prospect of sanction by either removing an unauthorised construction or applying for retention permission, in the event of planning violations, breaches of planning permission in particular or of planning law in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16937/17]

 213. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan  Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on enforcement as an aspect to the planning process; his further views on the desirability of funding the following activities (details supplied) money spent on the following to be money well spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16938/17]

My role, as Minister, in relation to the planning system is mainly to provide and update the legislative and policy guidance framework. The legislative framework comprises the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended. 

With regards to policy guidance, my Department has issued a large number of planning guidelines (available on the Department’s website, www.housing.gov.ie) under section 28 of the Act, to which planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are obliged to have regard in the exercise of their planning functions. The day-to-day operation of the planning system is, however, a matter for the planning authorities.   

Under planning legislation, enforcement of planning control is a matter for the relevant planning authority which can take action if a development does not have the required permission, or where the terms of a permission have not been met. Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement issue, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. There are extensive enforcement provisions provided for in Part VIII of the Act, with a view to ensuring that works pertaining to permitted developments are carried out in accordance with the planning permission granted and any associated conditions and that no unauthorised development takes place. If a person is of the view that any development works being undertaken are not in compliance with the permission granted or are unauthorised, s/he may make a written complaint to the relevant planning authority who shall investigate the matter and take any appropriate enforcement action, including, where necessary, the seeking of a Court order requiring that the development is carried out in conformity with the planning permission and any condition pertaining to that permission. 

If an enforcement notice is not complied with, the planning authority may itself take the specified steps and recover the expense incurred in doing so. A planning authority may also seek a Court order under section 160 of the Act, requiring any particular action to be done or not to be done. 

In May 2013, a Ministerial Policy Directive was issued to all planning authorities, reminding them of their statutory obligations under Part VIII of the Act relating to enforcement. The Directive required that planning authorities ensure that sufficient and appropriate human resources are made available for enforcement purposes. It also required planning authorities to undertake appropriate monitoring of planning enforcement and directed them to prioritise large-scale unauthorised development and enforcement cases.

I am satisfied that planning authorities have sufficient enforcement powers at their disposal under the existing legislation. Further to the Policy Directive referred to, it is a matter for planning authorities to ensure that they assign appropriate resources for effective planning enforcement.

 

 

 

Dail Debates & Questions February 2017

(1) Architectural Heritage – Sale of Luggala - 1/2/17

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy):  Information on Eugene Murphy  Zoom on Eugene Murphy I point out to Deputies Burton and Gino Kenny that as they are dividing their time I will be strict in allocating two minutes each initially. They will have a second opportunity of one minute each.

Deputy Joan Burton:  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton I propose that the State should move to acquire the famous Luggala estate to ensure that the public can continue to enjoy its beauty and that it can also attract tourists to the Roundwood area of County Wicklow. This is one of the Guinness family's ancestral homes in Ireland and it has been put on the market with a suggested value of up to €28 million. The Luggala estate comprising 5,000 acres has been immortalised in poetry by Seamus Heaney. It has featured in some of the most famous Irish films on numerous occasions. It is enormously popular with Irish people and tourists to Ireland as being one of the most beautiful and iconic points in Ireland.

The estate has been the long-time home to the founder of Claddagh Records, Garech Browne, whose contribution not just to ensuring the preservation of the estate, but also to Irish culture and music has been outstanding. His stewardship of Luggala has ensured that the vast majority of the estate, other than the area immediately around the house, has become a favourite for local Irish people and foreign tourists alike. This is undoubtedly unique and is one of the most pristine estates in the country. If it is acquired for the people of Ireland, it would undoubtedly grow in popularity with tourists in a very rural and wild area of the Wicklow Mountains.

Unless the State intervenes, Luggala could be bought by a wealthy private purchaser or investor, leading to uncertainty over access to the estate. State ownership would ensure the pristine condition of the estate is maintained. This sale provides a unique opportunity to extend the Wicklow Mountains National Park and to secure access for the public forever.

Deputy Gino Kenny:  Information on Gino Kenny  Zoom on Gino Kenny Deputy Burton has robbed all my lines.

I would be interested in the Minister of State's view on the sale of Luggala estate. I probably go to Wicklow once a week. The backdrop with that road coming into Luggala estate is probably the most scenic and picturesque place not just in Wicklow, but in Ireland. Thousands of people use the amenity each year. There would be great value to owning the house and its 5,000 acres. It is an incredible site. I do not know if the Minister of State has been there. It is very accessible. As Deputy Burton has said, the current owner has made it accessible. We do not want it to become inaccessible. The land belongs to the people of the country and they should not be denied.

If it is sold it could become inaccessible meaning that people could not use it. I am sure that will be fought very hard. We are asking that the State should try to buy it in order to make it accessible for the people of Ireland. It has huge potential to be part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park and be an asset to the people of Ireland.

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring I thank the Deputies for raising the matter. I am aware from media reports that Luggala house and estate comprising some 5,000 acres has been offered for sale with a reported asking price of €28 million. It is situated near Roundwood and is within the area of the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

The main mechanism for protection of our built heritage is the inclusion of buildings and sites on National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, NIAH. As Minister I can make recommendations for inclusion on the record of protected structures arising from the survey to the planning authority. Luggala is recorded in the NIAH and is rated as of regional importance. Inclusion of buildings or structures on the RPS is a responsibility of the local planning authority and both the main house and a garden temple in the grounds of the house are included in the record of protected structures in Wicklow County Council.

As a Department responsible for our national heritage, my Department is fully aware of the cultural and economic importance of historic built assets nationally and of the importance of securing their future on an ongoing basis. Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect the architectural heritage by including relevant structures on the record of protected structures. Inclusion on the record of protected structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.

Over recent years several important houses have been offered for sale by their respective owners and negotiations in most cases concluded with their future secured by the support of new owners. My Department has no direct role in this process as it is a commercial matter between the owners of the properties in question and the parties interested in the purchase.

As the Deputies are no doubt aware, the scope for funding for the conservation of our built heritage is currently constrained by the significant reduction in the public finances. Funding for the protection of built heritage will continue to be provided by the Department in 2017 via a number of schemes.

The Department could only consider acquiring this property if the price fell within a certain range. In this context, I would also remind the House that in late 2016 my Department negotiated the extension of Wicklow Mountains National Park by purchasing almost 4,900 acres of Dublin Uplands at Glenasmole at a cost of €800,000. The Deputies might remember that the vendor was looking for €4 million at the time.

Clearly, the Guinness name is very famous in Ireland and should a donation of the property by the family be in prospect, then I would be very happy to entertain overtures from the vendors and, in particular, as to the presentation of the house and lands as a publicly owned and accessible property.

It would, by any measure, be a significant addition to our stock of publicly owned heritage properties and lands and would add greatly to the integration of the Dublin and Wicklow national parks. It would sit on a par with the family's far-sighted and generous donation of Iveagh House and Gardens to the State in 1939. I hope they would consider giving the property to the State. I will negotiate with them and will ensure that the State protected and looked after the property. It would be a very generous contribution to the State. The Guinness name has been well recognised in the country. The family has many businesses and I have no doubt that it might consider this.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy):  Information on Eugene Murphy  Zoom on Eugene Murphy The time for the Topical Issue debate is up, but I will allow the two Deputies and the Minister of State a short response.

Deputy Joan Burton:  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton I thank the Minister of State for a very positive initial response. He is clearly aware of the significance of this estate to people in Ireland. It also ties in with one of the Government's key issues, which is the development and protection of rural areas. There could be no more remote and rural area than this wonderful and beautiful estate in the Wicklow Mountains.

The Minister of State rightly referenced the Guinness family's donation of Iveagh House and Gardens in the earlier history of the State and that building now houses the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Guinness family sold - albeit at quite a high price in Celtic tiger times - Farmleigh, which has been a magnificent addition to Dublin and also St. Anne's Park. I draw the Minister of State's attention to a place where I walk every year once or twice - the woods at Cong, beside Ashford Castle.

We have many examples of what can be done here. This is part of all our heritage and I thank the Minister of State for his reply.

Deputy Gino Kenny:  Information on Gino Kenny  Zoom on Gino Kenny The Minister of State's reply was quite positive. He said the Department could also consider acquiring the property if the price fell within a range.

[Deputy Gino Kenny:  Information on Gino Kenny  Zoom on Gino Kenny] If the price reduced, would the State be interested in buying the house? It would be even better if it was donated to the State. Is the Minister of State saying that if the price reduced dramatically, the State would engage with the owner?

Deputy Michael Ring:  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring Deputy Burton is correct. I have just gone through this process with regard to Westport House, and I want to state on the record again today that I am delighted the Hughes family has bought Westport House.

Deputy Joan Burton:  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton Absolutely.

Deputy Michael Ring:  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring It was an issue of great concern. With regard to what the Deputy said earlier, I, too, was pleased with the outcome. I spent a year, as did the people of Westport, making sure that part of it was held in State hands but the rest of it by a family that is committed to Westport.

Deputy Kenny asked me a question. I will give a straight answer. The State does not have €28 million. I would ask the Guinness family, and Deputy Burton was correct when she said they have a great connection to Ireland in terms of the Guinness brand, to consider offering the house to the State. I am prepared to sit down and negotiate with them but I would hope they would hand it over to the State, as they did with Iveagh House. This house is a very important piece of infrastructure. It is of regional importance but in my opinion it is of national importance. I am prepared to negotiate with the family. The State does not have many resources but if the family are prepared to hand over the house to the State, it will be delighted to accept it and maintain and retain it.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy):  Information on Eugene Murphy  Zoom on Eugene Murphy I thank the Deputies for their co-operation. I had to cut them off to some extent but I am sure they understand that I have to try to move things along.

 

Dail Debates & Questions January 2017

(1)            Greenways Provision Kerry – 17 January 2017

 1530. Deputy Alan Kelly  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the Glenbeigh to Reenard greenway will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41189/16]

 1533. Deputy Alan Kelly  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount of funding he has spent on greenways in 2016; if he will provide a breakdown in this regard; his plans to provide funding to greenways in 2017; and the locations of same. [41192/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 1530 and 1533 together.

Under the National Cycle Network (NCN) Funding Programme 2014-2016, €3,458,281 was awarded to Kerry County Council for the construction of the Glenbeigh to Renard greenway.  I understand that this project has experienced significant challenges in terms of costs, planning, engineering and engagement with local landowners which has resulted in the delay in delivering the project within the timeframe of the funding programme.  The focus to date has been on progressing the planning and design elements of the route.  My Department officials will continue to liaise with Kerry County Council regarding the future development of the project.

  ​My Department is developing a new Strategy on Greenways to underpin the future development and funding of greenways. The proposed Strategy will include the approach to be taken by authorities and agencies tasked with delivering greenway infrastructure where engagement and consultation with landowners is required and, when finalised, will inform the approach to be taken to progress delivery of the South Kerry Greenway. The Department will undertake a public consultation process in the near future to inform the development of the new Greenways Strategy and all interested parties will have the opportunity to submit their views on such issues during the public consultation process.


​Details of funding claimed and paid by my Department to local authorities for greenway infrastructure in 2016 are set out in the attached table.  The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the delivery of greenway infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) in co-operation with the relevant local authorities. In light of its role in this regard, I have forwarded your question to the NTA to provide you with the relevant 2016 figures for the GDA.  If you have not received the requested information from the NTA within 10 working days please contact my office.

  Funding for greenways infrastructure from 2017 onwards will be considered in the context of the new Greenways Strategy.  The Programme for Partnership Government commits to making additional funding available for greenways and I will be pursuing this in the context of the  mid-term review of the Capital Plan which is planned for later this year.



  National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014- 2016 (2016 expenditure)

Local Authority

Grant

Project

2016 drawdown

Galway County Council

2,000,000.00

Galway to Moycullen Greenway

16,816.38

Kerry County Council

3,458,281.00

Glebeigh to Reenard Greenway  (Phases 2 and 3 of the South Kerry Greenway)

366,770.21

Kildare County Council

841,673.00

Spin Bridge to Chambers Bridge (part of Dublin to Galway Greenway)

816,977.47

Longford County Council

513,000.00

Abbeyshrule to  Ballymahon Greenway

513,000.00

Meath County Council

1,971,000.00

Croboy to Moyvalley and Cloncurry to Blackwater Aquaduct (part of Dublin to Galway Greenway)

458,512.52

Westmeath County Council

496,187.00

Garrycastle to White Gates Greenway

496,187.00

TOTAL 2016 

 

 

2,668,263.58

Government Stimulus Programme 2014 (2016 expenditure)

 

 

 

Local Authority

 

Project

2016 drawdown

Kerry County Council

450,000.00

Cahirciveen to Reenard (Phase 1 of the South Kerry Greenway)

37,543.31

Roscommon County Council

400,000.00

Boyle to Lough Key Forest Park

28,319.11

Tipperary County Council

1,900,000.00

Clonmel to Carrick on Suir Greenway

945,109.96

 

(2) Afforestation Programme – On Commonages - 24/1/17

 255. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae  Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the planting of forestry on a commonage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3446/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed Commonage land is not automatically excluded from the Afforestation Grant and Premium Schemes. However, all shareholders must be identified and each must give their consent to the application.  Further information on ownership and commonages may be obtained from Section 3 the Forestry Schemes Manual.

All applications for Afforestation are subjected to a screening process to determine if an Environmental Impact Assessment is required.  In some cases, applications will be screened for an appropriate assessment to ascertain if there could be a potential adverse impact on a designated Natura 2000 site.  National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) may be requested to provide their observations, particularly when a proposed site is close to a SAC.  Any restrictions would depend on many factors, such as the location, size and type of site, and information received during the consultation process.

Afforestation Programme

 256. Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding planting a commonage with forestry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3462/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed Commonage land is not automatically excluded from the Afforestation Grant and Premium Schemes. However, all shareholders must be identified and each must  give their consent to the application.  Further information on ownership and commonages may be obtained from Section 3 the Forestry Schemes Manual.

All applications for Afforestation are subjected to a screening process to determine if an Environmental Impact Assessment is required.  In some cases, applications will be screened for an appropriate assessment to ascertain if there could be a potential adverse impact on a designated Natura 2000 site.  National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) may be requested to provide their observations, particularly when a proposed site is close to a SAC.  Any restrictions would depend on many factors, such as the location, size and type of site, and information received during the consultation process.

 

Dail Debates & Questions December 2016

(1)            Afforestation Programme – 6th December 2016

 389. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed the extent to which he can generate an increase in forestry development through the use of marginal lands with the objective of increased carbon sequestration and good environmental practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38861/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed The current Forestry Programme, covering the period 2015-2020, ensures continued state support for the two key objectives of increasing forest cover and wood mobilisation. Almost €500 million of investment over the six year programme period will facilitate an increase in forest cover by almost 44,000 hectares over the period of the Programme. The level of afforestation grant and premiums, allied to the tax treatment of income from forests provide good incentives for landowners to plant a proportion of their holding. Forests established in the period since 1990 are forecast to remove up to 4.5m tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide over the period 2021–2030.

All applications are considered under the afforestation scheme where approvals are subject to minimum productivity thresholds, a public consultation process and adherence to environmental guidelines. However, marginal land is best suited for forestry as it is generally less productive for agriculture. Where farmers are under utilising their land the Department encourages planting on the more marginal fields while maintaining the herd size which is left to graze on the remaining fields. In this way agricultural output is maintained and a valuable asset with environmental benefits is established. 

The development of marginal land for forestry has been positively impacted by two recent initiatives. The first of these is the introduction of a new approach to land classification system from a forest productivity perspective and the second is a full review and consolidation of environmental requirements for afforestation. Both of these developments should help increase planting on marginal sites in line with good environmental practices.

 

(2)            Forestry Sector – 16 December 2016

 467. Deputy Brendan Smith  Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed if his attention has been drawn to widespread concerns in communities in County Cavan and elsewhere in relation to the purchase of land for afforestation by persons who are not dependent on farming as an income; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that in many cases farmers who wish to purchase adjoining holdings to make their own farms viable are deprived of these opportunities due to the demand for such land from non-farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40940/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed I am aware of some negativity surrounding forestry in County Cavan and neighbouring counties in recent months and particularly the planting of land by non farmers. A total of 24 landowners who classified themselves as non-farmers planted forests in Co Cavan so far during 2016; it’s worth noting that 17 of these had addresses in Co. Cavan itself. So far in 2016 there were no private institutional investors approved for payment under the afforestation scheme in the county.  The total area planted by non farmers represented 53% of all new planting during the year which is above the national average.  It is difficult to determine however if the 24 non-farmer individuals already owned the land or if they had bought the land specifically to plant. It is worth noting that farmers are entitled to sell their land to the highest bidder and if forestry is improving the price that farmers can receive for their land then these landowners stand to benefit.

According to the CSO Census of Agriculture 2010, the average farm size in Co Cavan is 26.4 hectares while the average forest established by non-farmers in Co Cavan since the launch of the new forestry programme is just 7.2 hectares. This suggests that in situations where non-farmers are buying land for forestry they are not buying entire farms for this purpose.

In 2016 alone, forestry payments worth over €2.6m were paid by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to just under 430 landowners with Cavan addresses. These payments are an important source of income not just for people in direct receipt of these payments but also for local shops, petrol stations and other local businesses which are a vital part of a rural community. According to the latest national forest inventory total forest cover in the county is just 8.7% which is well below the national average which stands at 10.5%. The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine therefore plan to continue to offer forestry as a land use option for farmers and non-farmers throughout the country.

 

  Dail Debates & Questions November 2016

        (1)        Greenways Development – 2nd November 2016

                   Dublin – Galway Route development problems.

 

 6. Deputy Robert Troy  Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when he expects the proposed greenway from Dublin to Galway to be completed; his proposals to resolve issues that have arisen among parties along the Athlone to Galway section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33006/16]

Deputy Robert Troy:  Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy The Minister will be familiar with the greenway between Mullingar and Athlone, and into Ballymahon. The Minister visited on a number of occasions. We have always welcomed him because, in fairness, he has made much-needed funding available. As I have always said when raising the need for additional funding in my constituency, the greenway will not reach its full potential until such time as it runs from Dublin across to Galway. There is a major issue between Athlone and Galway in progressing the next phase.

I want to know today how the Minister intends to resolve the issues and concerns of the landowners affected in this area.

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I seem to be spending more time discussing the issues in Athlone than anywhere else when I am answering questions on this particular body, partly, through no fault of Deputy Troy, because I seem to be familiar with those issues. This greenway is a good litmus test. It is a good question and I will address it.

My Department is developing a new strategy to set out a cohesive and forward-looking approach to the development, funding and promotion of greenways. As part of this process my Department will consult all stakeholders in the coming months. This proposed strategy will include a recommended approach to be taken by authorities and agencies tasked with delivering greenway infrastructure where engagement and consultation with landowners is required and, when finalised, will inform the approach to be taken to progress delivery of the section of the Galway to Dublin greenway between Athlone and Galway.​

I was pleased to be in a position to award funding in July this year to a number of greenways where good progress was being made. This included funding for sections of the Galway to Dublin greenway in counties Kildare and Meath. The focus of this funding allocation was for those sections of the Galway to Dublin greenway where planning permission is in place and I expect that by the end of 2017 this will have facilitated progress on construction to the extent that it will be possible to cycle from Maynooth to Athlone entirely on segregated high-quality greenway.

I remain committed to achieving the delivery of this coast-to-coast greenway that will help to position Ireland as a destination for cycling holidays. I understand that the number of tourists cycling while on holiday in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years, from 66,000 in 2009 to more than 200,000 in 2015. While this is a small percentage of the total numbers visiting Ireland, it shows that there is a growing market for cycling tourism and this can be further exploited by a cohesive approach to the future development of greenways which I intend to pursue through the development of a new greenways strategy. I am determined to see this greenway in being and to clear it up.

Deputy Robert Troy:  Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy I am glad the Minister has, once again, acknowledged that he is listening to what I am saying on this side of the House and when I requested additional funding for a part of this section, he granted it. This is a national scheme. It is not parochial. It is not unique to my constituency. It is for the betterment of the tourism sector in general. That is why we need it to run from Dublin to Galway and for the project to advance to the next stage.

The question I ask refers in particular to the section between Athlone and Galway because I am very familiar with the funding that has been made available to the other sections of the greenway. There is considerable concern and anxiety about the affected landowners between Athlone and Galway. That is why the project was shelved over 18 months ago, although I acknowledge it was before the Minister's time. In order to advance this to the next stage, will the Minister and his officials agree to meet a group which has been set up and which is representative of people who are concerned about this section of the planned route? Will he meet and engage with them to see how we can overcome this impasse in order that we can come to an agreement, select a new route and move on so that construction can commence for the final leg of the project between Athlone and Galway?

 

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I will consider that. If I think there is any useful purpose in meeting the landowners and any groups involved, I will consider doing so. I am not inclined to get involved in a local dispute if I think it will not do any good. It is very important that we consider, under the greenways policy, what we are going to do here. I understand the problems for landowners and the fact that they feel threatened by the possibility of compulsory purchase orders. My officials and I are determined to promote greenways throughout Ireland. The possibility of a coast to coast greenway of the sort envisaged here is something which we must turn into a reality. We will have to examine all the possibilities. Regarding rerouting, it was probably a mistake made by the Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, initially in the preferred route it put down here and it was probably jumping the gun a bit.

I would be prepared to consider meeting the parties to which the Deputy referred if I thought it would be of any use. However, I will not meet them if I think it will be just another empty exercise. It is very important that this is done. If I see an opportunity for ministerial intervention which would do some good, I will certainly act accordingly. In the meantime, the previous Minister put this project on pause and talks are hopefully going to go ahead which will resolve this problem.

 

Deputy Robert Troy:  Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy This is not simply a local dispute. It concerns a large section of the overall greenway project. Approximately 55% of the route of the greenway between Dublin and Galway goes through privately-owned land, yet no representatives of the owners of those lands were on the steering committee. That was a mistake. They should have been on the steering committee from the outset and had their voices heard. The reason the project has been very successful to date is because of the local buy-in from those in the areas where it has advanced. The Minister of State, Deputy O'Donovan, was in Coolnahay recently and he saw the success of local buy-in to the greenway project and he also saw that when he visited our region. The reason it has been so successful is that State-owned land has been used in those areas. There are alternatives here. I am a strong supporter of this project. I do not want to see it shelved and fall off the cliff, as it were, in Athlone. I want it to go all the way to Galway. Everybody wants to see that but let us bring it to Galway in a manner which can be done in consultation with the various stakeholders that will not impinge on farmers who are going about their daily work on their farms when there are alternatives that could be considered. I ask the Minister - in all sincerity - to meet those landowners, explore the alternative options and see if we can reach a compromise to advance this project to the next stage and have what we all want, a greenway from Dublin to Galway in the very near future.

 

Deputy Shane Ross:  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross We are probably ad idem on this. We all want to see this greenway developed and brought to fruition. It is just a matter of the best way of doing that. There is a process already being shaped by my Department for the development of greenways and difficulties of this sort. Specifically, my Department will consult all stakeholders in the coming months. This proposed strategy will include the recommended approach to be taken by authorities and agencies tasked with delivering greenway infrastructure where engagement and consultation with landowners is required and, when finalised, will inform the approach to be taken when talks are resumed on the delivery of the section of the Galway to Dublin greenway between Athlone and Galway. It may have been paused but it has not been halted. I can assure the Deputy of that.

  Engagement with the Irish Farmers' Association, IFA, and with other stakeholders will be a necessary part of the process in seeking to resolve the issues of concern which have been identified to date. In addition to identifying and agreeing a preferred route, potential levels of compensation to affected landowners will be examined. The Department will look for guidance to the compensation package put in place to enable the TII and the local authorities to deliver national road schemes.

 

Dail Debates & Questions October 2016

 

(1)            Planning Issues – Donegal CoCo – 11 Oct 2016

(2)            Heritage Sites –  Dublin Mountains -18 October 2016

 

(3)            Greenways Funding & Brexit – 18th  October 2016

 

(4)            National Parks and Wildlife Service – Fencing 19th October 2016

 

(5)            Rural Recreation Policy -  20 October 2016

 

(6)            Boundary Disputes – 20th October 2016

 

    (7)    Mountain Rescue Service – 20th October 2016

 

   (8)    Waterways Issues (1)  - 20th October 2016

             Waterways Issues (2)  - 20th October 2016

 

  (9)     Tourism Funding – 20th October 2016

 

  (10)    Greenways Funding North Kildare -25 October 2016

     

(1)            Planning Issues – Donegal CoCo – 11 Oct 2016

 233. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin  Information on Eoin Ó Broin  Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the various allegations detailed to him by a person (details supplied) in a county council that allege another person was acting fraudulently; his plans to address the allegations; if he is satisfied that his Department and the county council concerned have responded adequately to the very serious allegations raised previously by this whistleblower; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29701/16]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney):  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department appointed Senior Counsel on a non-statutory basis on 2 September 2015 to prepare a review report in relation to planning matters in Donegal. This follows the Order made by the High Court on 14 June 2013, quashing that part of my Department’s Planning Review Report (2012) relating to Donegal, arising from a settlement between my Department and the party concerned who had brought judicial review proceedings in respect of that part of the Report.

Senior Counsel was due to submit a review report to my predecessor by 31 October 2015; however, further interactions and clarifications being sought with regard to the scope and nature of the review have resulted in delays to concluding the review. I am currently considering these matters, with a view to providing the necessary clarifications to enable Senior Counsel to complete his independent review as soon as possible within the coming months.

The complainant has recently submitted a separate complaint which is currently being considered by my Department and a separate response will issue to him shortly on this issue.

 

(2)            Heritage Sites –  Dublin Mountains -18 October 2016

 378. Deputy John Lahart  Information on John Lahart  Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of the purchase by the State of The Featherbeds in the Dublin mountains; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [30449/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring Contractual negotiations in respect of the purchase of the lands at Glenasmole, which incorporate part of the area popularly known as ‘the Featherbeds’, are advanced and it is expected that they will be concluded shortly. The Featherbeds are an important area for nature conservation and for public amenity. Their acquisition is a sign of the State’s enduring commitment to preserving our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and visitors alike to enjoy.

(3)            Greenways Funding & Brexit – 18th  October 2016

 619. Deputy Charlie McConalogue  Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the north-west greeenway project which has been submitted to the SEUPB for funding under the INTERREG project on a partnership basis between Donegal County Council and Derry City Council; if he is committed to the co-funding requirement for this project; if his attention has been drawn to the status of the SEUPB funding in view of the UK decision to leave the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30227/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​I understand that this project consists of a number of Greenways in the Northwest, including Derry to Muff, Derry to Buncrana and Lifford to Strabane.  While the project has been the subject of an assessment process led by the Special EU Programmes Body, uncertainty surrounds the availability of EU funding as a consequence of the UK decision to leave the EU.

My officials are in ongoing discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform which, as the Department responsible for overseeing Government's approach on this issue, are working to address the financial, legal and technical issues that arise to ensure that programme beneficiaries can be made robust offers of funding that will survive the impact of Brexit.

 

(4)            National Parks and Wildlife Service – Fencing 19th October 2016

 116. Deputy John Brassil  Information on John Brassil  Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will request that the National Parks and Wildlife Service re-erect boundary fences where the national park backs up onto the properties in an area (details supplied) as there are serious issues with deer entering the properties, which is causing damage and is a health and safety issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31040/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring Officials from my Department’s regional staff have examined the area in question. If a contact name and address for a representative of the residents could be provided, my officials will be happy to meet with that representative to discuss the matter.

(5)            Rural Recreation Policy -  20 October 2016

 38. Deputy Jim Daly  Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will consider the introduction of a dedicated funding stream for the purpose of constructing walking and cycling trails in rural Ireland. [31011/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring The Rural Recreation Scheme, which falls under my Department’s remit, provides funding for the development and maintenance of rural recreation infrastructure, including cycling and walking trails, in rural Ireland.

I recently allocated €4.5 million to 75 projects around the country under the Rural Recreation Scheme. This funding included a number of walking and cycling trail projects.

My Department also provides funding to private landowners under the Rural Walks Scheme for the maintenance and upkeep of sections of National Way Marked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. It is anticipated that approximately €1. 8 million will be made in payments to participants under this scheme in 2016.

I have secured an additional €8 million in Budget 2017 for my Department’s National Rural Development Schemes, which includes the Rural Recreation Scheme, the Rural Walks Scheme and the CLÁR programme. This funding will facilitate the development of new recreational facilities and the continued maintenance and promotion of existing recreational infrastructure, including cycling and walking trails.

In addition, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport provides funding for a programme of greenways, which benefit both cyclists and walkers throughout the country.

 

(6)            Boundary Disputes – 20th October 2016

 50. Deputy Clare Daly  Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald further to Parliamentary Question No. 15 of 16 September 2016, if she has knowledge of an expert report on land surveying (details supplied); if that report was known to her officials and the Property Registration Authority, PRA, when she provided her reply; and her views on whether practices based on negligent procedures must be targeted for reform. [31214/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):  Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I have been informed by the Property Registration Authority (PRA) that it is aware of the contents of a 2014 Report entitled "Towards the Registration of Defined Property Boundaries in Ireland" which was prepared by the Inter-Professional Task Force on Property Boundaries. The report contains recommendations concerning the existing non-conclusive boundary model which has been in operation in Ireland since 1892.

  The statutory functions and procedures of the PRA are set out in the Registration of Deeds and Title Acts 1964 and 2006 and the Land Registration Rules 2012 - 2013. Details of its Mapping Practice standards are available on its website, www.prai.ie. The Authority's objective is to ensure that all maps lodged for registration comply fully with its mapping standards.

  The recommendations set out in Chapter 7 of the 2014 Report advocate a move away from the State's long-standing property registration model and are at variance with current registration of title policy and existing legislative provisions. The changes advocated in the Report would add significant additional costs to the conveyancing process, have the potential to disturb existing titles to registered property and exacerbate the risk of boundary disputes. Moreover, implementation of such changes could increase the exposure of the State to compensation claims.

  The Deputy's Question of 16 September 2016 raised matters concerning property boundary disputes and as I outlined in my reply at that time, I am advised that the PRA is not aware of any recent increases relating to boundary disputes. While the PRA is aware of the report referred to by the Deputy and other studies, it is notable that no concerns relating to a perceived increase in boundary disputes have been raised via the PRA's Customer Focus Forum, a forum where the PRA engages with solicitors, surveyors, engineers and architects in relation to all matters pertaining to property registration. I am assured by the PRA that it has in place robust structures whereby the registered owners of properties or their representatives can engage with the PRA in relation to matters pertaining to the mapped representation of the registration.

The Deputy will be aware that a Government decision was taken to merge the PRA with Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Valuation Office to form a new statutory body, Tailte Éireann, for which legislation is currently being drafted. Among the issues to be examined in the context of the merger are the strategic goals and priorities of the prospective merged organisation. It is anticipated that this will provide an opportunity to derive significant added value from the bringing together of the rich data holdings of the three organisations concerned. Any potential changes to the mapping system as well as submissions or proposals from representative organisations could be considered in that context.

 

 

(7)            Mountain Rescue Service – 20th October 2016

 168. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys if it is intended to provide ongoing current and capital funding for mountain rescue services to the mountain rescue teams around the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31103/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring Mountain rescue services have been funded in the past by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and have also received funding from the Scheme of Support for National Organisation (SSNO) which is managed by the Department of Housing, Planning Community and Local Government.

My Department has now taken over responsibility for mountain rescue services and is currently examining ways to ensure that funding is provided to maintain these important services.

 

 

(8)            Waterways Issues (1)  - 20th October 2016

 192. Deputy Brendan Smith  Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of the restoration of the Ulster Canal; the timeframe for the provision of a jetty by Waterways Ireland at Castle Saunderson, County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31330/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys The reopening of the 2.5km stretch of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson continues to progress. The project, which comprises three work phases, is being undertaken by Waterways Ireland. Phase 1, the site investigation work, and Phase 2, the dredging of the River Finn and removal of the dredging material, have been completed.

Waterways Ireland has informed me that it is currently completing the tender documentation for the final stage of works to provide navigation to Castle Saunderson. Subject to a successful tender and award process, it is proposed that works would start on site in Spring 2017 with an anticipated 18 month contract period.

I am also advised by Waterways Ireland that it continues to engage with Cavan County Council, which owns the property at Castle Saunderson, regarding the provision of a jetty at that location.

 

            Waterways Issues (2)

 193. Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Timmy Dooley  Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys when Waterways Ireland will carry out improvement works on the embankments of the river Blackwater in Clonlara, County Clare, between Mount Catherine bridge and the diversion point facilitating the Plassy/Errina Canal, to prevent a reoccurrence of the flooding experienced in this area in 2015. [31335/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys I am advised by Waterways Ireland that the area referred to by the Deputy is some 710 metres in length but that the organisation’s jurisdiction extends only to some 350 metres upstream of the Blackwater/Canal diversion point. Waterways Ireland undertook repair works to the embankments along that 350 metre stretch in 2013. I am informed that Waterways Ireland is currently working on a separate stretch downstream of the diversion point towards Gilloge Bridge. However, it is not in a position to carry out works outside of its jurisdictional area to Mount Catherine Bridge.

I am also advised that the jurisdictional area has been raised and clarified by Waterways Ireland with the local authority and the Office of Public Works, and that a meeting is taking place on site to further discuss the matter with the local authority this coming Friday (21 October 2016).

 

          

(9)            Tourism Funding – 20th October 2016

 277. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív