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 March 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 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  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 progress as provided under the programme for Government on €100 million capital investment in the Wild Atlantic Way and greenways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31373/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan):  Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan The Programme for Government provides that the Government will set aside €100 million in additional capital funding to take the Wild Atlantic Way to the next level, including an Atlantic Blueway route, and the Ireland Way, to invest further in developing a nationwide Greenway network, to double the funding available for the Rural Walks Scheme from €2 million to €4 million, and to increase the number of walks covered from 40 to 80. The commitment in the Programme for Government covers a number of funding programmes and Departments.  Consideration of how best to allocate funding for these areas will form part of the mid-term review of the Capital Investment Plan that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will be commencing in early 2017.

 

 

(10)      Greenways Funding North Kildare -25 October 2016

 551. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan  Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the extent to which financial shortfalls have occurred in providing the north Kildare greenway project; if he has received requests for additional funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31479/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​On the 1st July, 2016 I announced the award of c.€2.5m to Kildare County Council and Meath County Council to construct sections of the Galway to Dublin Greenway within Kildare and Meath.

Kildare County Council has been awarded c.€740,000 and I understand that work has commenced on the project and the section of the Galway to Dublin Greenway in Kilcock is expected to be finished by year end.

This funding demonstrates a commitment to proceeding with construction of the Galway to Dublin Greenway and I look forward to seeing the completion of the Maynooth to Athlone section by the end of 2017. This will provide a wonderful facility for all to use and allied with the investment in extending the Royal Canal Greenway to Ballymahon in County Longford will attract a significant number of users.

 

 

Dail Debates & Questions September 2016

  (1)  Greenways Funding – 7th September 2016

 1805. Deputy Josepha Madigan  Information on Josepha Madigan  Zoom on Josepha Madigan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if the Dodder greenway project will go ahead; the start and completion dates for the different parts of the project; if funding from the National Transport Authority is available or if there have been any delays in this matter; if he will clarify the commitment of his Department to this project; and if he will confirm that funding is available and advise on any delays foreseen. [25747/16]

 1827. Deputy Brendan Ryan  Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if there is a funding shortfall for cycling infrastructure projects in the Dublin area; his views on the NTA proposal to request Dublin City Council to postpone design work on the Dodder greenway, the Grand Canal greenway, the Clonskeagh to city centre cycleway and the delay in the Royal Canal cycleway phase 4; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26057/16]

 1828. Deputy Brendan Ryan  Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount of funding which was withdrawn by the NTA from cycling infrastructure and provided for Luas cross city and city centre traffic management works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26058/16]

 1829. Deputy Brendan Ryan  Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will provide a timeline for and expedite the completion of a number of cycling infrastructure projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26059/16]

1831. Deputy Imelda Munster  Information on Imelda Munster  Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if the NTA has provided him with a new start date for the Dodder greenway, the Grand Canal greenway, phase four of the Royal Canal greenway, the Clonskeagh to city scheme, the Drury Street cycle parking project and the Heuston to Chapelizod greenway, which have all been suspended by the NTA. [26061/16]

 1839. 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 if he has consulted the National Transport Authority regarding the decision to postpone funding support for the design phase of the Dodder greenway and the design of new cycling routes along the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and the Liffey quays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26102/16]

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. 1805, 1827 to 1829, inclusive, and 1831 and 1839 together

The National Authority (NTA) is responsible for the development and implementation of public transport and sustainable transport infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).

Under the Sustainable Transport Measures Grants (STMG) Programme, my Department provides funding to the NTA for the seven local authorities in the GDA for the implementation of sustainable transport projects such as cycling/walking infrastructure, Quality Bus Corridors, safety, integration and traffic management projects throughout the region.  Funding of €23.2m has been allocated to this Programme in 2016.  Of this total, I understand that NTA has allocated €14.7m to Dublin City Council to progress 37 different projects including the cycling projects mentioned by the Deputies.

The STMG funding programme is completely separate from the LUAS Cross City Project and I can confirm that funding has not been diverted from the STMG programme to the Luas Cross City project which is being constructed within budget and which is on target for the commencement of passenger services at the end of 2017. 

However, I am advised by the NTA that with the technical resource requirements available to the Council, not all the desired projects can be progressed simultaneously.  The NTA and Dublin City Council have therefore decided to prioritise the works associated with LUAS Cross City plus a slightly reduced number of other sustainable transport schemes and to pause a small number of other projects (including those mentioned by the Deputies) all of which are at the design stage only. Works will resume at the earliest possible date.

 

Dail Debates & Questions July 2016

 

            (1)        Waterways Issues – 7 July 2016

            (2)        National Countryside Recreation Strategy  - 7 July 2016

            (3)        National Parks Projects – 21 July 2016 

            (4)        Land Issues – 21 July 2016          

            (5)        Greenways Funding – 21 July 2016

            

        

  (1)        Waterways Issues – 7 July 2016

16. Deputy Tony McLoughlin  Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans for the increased development of blueway trails such as the Shannon-Erne blueway; her views on how these trails can be utilised to attract visitors to rural counties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19856/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys Waterways Ireland has been actively progressing the development of Blueways as a means to attract new visitors to use the waterways and in response to the growth in demand for recreational activities such as walking, canoeing, cycling and stand up paddle boarding.

  The first Blueway was launched in October 2014 on the Shannon and it has been very successful. It links Drumshanbo with Carrick-on-Shannon and comprises a 16.5km paddling trail, a 10km walking trail and a 5km cycle trail. The 10km Camlin River paddling loop is also in operation. 

The Shannon-Erne Blueway, which I had the privilege of officially opening on 28 May 2016, links Leitrim Village with Belturbet, Co Cavan and provides a 70km series of paddling journeys, 25kms of walking trails and 8kms of cycling trails. There are also plans to upgrade a further 8kms this year. Based on existing monitoring of visitor usage, Waterways Ireland expects that 100,000 people will use the Shannon-Erne Blueway over the next year.

  Further development on the Shannon which is planned for 2016 includes:

  - A 20km trail from Carrick-on-Shannon to Boyle;

  - A 50km trail from Carrick-on-Shannon to Lanesborough, and 

  - A 30km looped trail around Lough Allen.

On the Royal Canal and Grand Canals, 45kms and 21kms of towpath trails have been developed respectively. Plans for upgrading the remaining towpaths on these canals are at varying stages and Waterways Ireland is working with various stakeholders, including the local authorities, LEADER groups, the National Transport Authority and the National Trails Office, to progress these developments. 

On the Barrow Navigation, Waterways Ireland plans to submit proposals to upgrade the Barrow towpath to the relevant planning authorities shortly. This will enhance the 112kms of off-road trackway from Lowtown in Co. Kildare to St Mullins in Co Carlow.   

Clearly, the development of 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. Blueways also provide an effective model for partnership between the private, community and voluntary sectors and relevant State bodies. 

 I am strongly of the view that the new configuration of my Department will offer significant opportunities for enhanced partnership on these matters and I look forward to working with my colleague, Minister of State Michael Ring, to that end.

 

(2)        National Countryside Recreation Strategy  - 7 July 2016

36. Deputy Joe Carey  Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on how the rural walks scheme can be used to attract visitors and boost tourism in rural counties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19846/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring The permissive access model currently used as part of the implementation of the National Countryside Recreation Strategy for the development of greenways and walkways in Ireland has led to the successful delivery of over 880 walking, cycling, and equestrian trails, which are all listed on the Irish Trails Register maintained by the National Trails Office of Sport Ireland.

Figures produced by Fáilte Ireland demonstrate that, in 2014, close to 1.2 million overseas visitors coming to Ireland engaged in hiking/walking. This is an increase of 451,000 visitors on the 2013 figures. The total spent in the Irish economy by those visitors in 2014 was in the region of €915 million, an increase of some €265 million on the 2013 expenditure. These figures do not include visitors or related spend in the economy by domestic visitors engaging in hiking or walking. 

These statistics demonstrate that hiking and walking on all trails, not just those covered by the Walks Scheme, are contributing to the Irish economy in attracting overseas visitors. The statistics also show how important the Walks Scheme is as its aim is to maintain and develop all of its walks to ensure a positive visitor experience for those using the walks, citizens and visitors alike.

The Walks Scheme is a maintenance-based payment scheme for landholders who maintain sections of trails that traverse their lands. The scheme is administered by 16 Local Development Companies on behalf my Department. There are currently 39 National Way Marked Ways and other Priority Loops covered by the scheme.

There is a commitment in A Programme for a Partnership Government to expand the Walks Scheme and I will be engaging with my colleagues in Government and with the Oireachtas to seek to advance this commitment in the context of the forthcoming estimates and budgetary processes. I am convinced that such an expansion would boost the number of high quality walks available to citizens and visitors alike, thereby increasing the attractiveness of the walking experiences available throughout Ireland.

 

(3)       National Parks Projects – 21 July 2016 

 414. Deputy Eamon Ryan  Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will consider entering into talks with NAMA regarding the 4,000 acres in Glenasmole with a view to developing it into a national park. [23902/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Michael Ring):  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring Following a meeting in February 2014 between my predecessor and Mountaineering Ireland, at which the question of lands near Wicklow Mountains National Park held by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) was discussed, officials from my Department approached NAMA to discuss those lands, with a preliminary meeting held in April 2014. On foot of the meeting, my Department expressed an interest in acquiring the lands in question in early May.

NAMA responded by indicating that its Board had recommended that NAMA engage, where feasible, with other State bodies, where that body has expressed an interest in acquiring a property for a purpose specifically linked to its statutory function. NAMA further indicated that an independent market valuation should be sought and that there are occasion where an open marketing exercise may be required.

Between May 2014 and September 2015 there was intermittent contact with NAMA by officials from my Department. Discussions in August and September 2015 related to the valuation of the land in question.

I understand there have been recent media reports regarding the proposed sale by NAMA of 4,900 acres at Glenasmole, incorporating part of the area popularly known as ‘the Featherbeds’. I also understand a separate commercial property management firm is handling the sale and has advertised the property for sale by private treaty.

The majority of the land in question is designated as a Special Area of Conversation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). Given its proximity to Wicklow Mountains National Park and its importance for nature conservation as an SAC and SPA, it is clear that it would make an important addition to the National Park. However, given the scare resources available for capital investment in our National Parks and Nature Reserves, I am mindful of the need to focus on the core responsibilities relating to the management of the Parks and Reserves.

 

(4)   Land Issues – 21 July 2016          

760. Deputy John Lahart  Information on John Lahart  Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources  Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten the authority or organisation that has responsibility for the rivers in Dublin city and county; the body with responsibility for physical boundaries such as river banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23791/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Seán Kyne):  Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne My Department holds no function in relation to this question. It would be a matter in the first instance for the landowner.

Inland Fisheries Ireland, which comes under the aegis of my Department, is the state agency responsible for the protection, management and conservation of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources. Should the Deputy have a particular issue relevant to IFI, I can have them contact him directly.

 

 

(5)    Greenways Funding – 21 July 2016

 

 825. Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the funding applied for Greenways; details of the locations; details of funding granted; the locations since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23980/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The following tables indicate the greenway projects funded by my Department since 2011, their locations and the funding allocated in respect of each project. Details of the applications received for Greenway funding since 2011 are being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possib

Greenway/Cycling project funded

 

 

National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2012-2013 - Projects funded

Year

Local Authority

Project

Funding awarded - €

2012

Carlow/Kilkenny

44.5km cycleway linking Carlow to Paulstown to Kilkenny.

463,000

 

Clare

4km cycleway linking Ennistymon to Lahinch

400,000

 

Donegal

195.5km cycle route between Donegal Town and Newtowncunningham

497,000

 

Donegal

195.5km cycle route between Donegal Town and Newtowncunningham

497,000

 

Fingal

3km cycle link from Ashtown to Blanchardstown

600,000

 

Kerry

1.2km extension to existing cycle/pedestrian route from  Killarney to Fossa

143,000

 

Limerick

3km extension to the Great Southern Trail (GST) from Abbeyfeale Town to Rathoran.

290,00

 

Louth

6.3km greenway from Omeath and Carlingford

678,000

 

Mayo

8.8km  greenway from Castlebar to Turlough Park

725,000

 

Meath

3km cycle/walkway from Drogheda Ramparts to the Oldbridge Estate entrance.

500,000

 

Monaghan

4.5km cycle route through Monaghan Town

471,000

 

North Tipperary

2.8km extension to the existing N52 walkway/cycleway

335,000

 

Offaly

16.8km of dedicated cycle lanes along the R420 from Tullamore to Moate

400,000

 

Roscommon

20km of dedicated cycle lanes along the former N6 between Athlone and Ballinasloe (funding withdrawn due to inability to deliver project)

470,000

 

Waterford City

3.2km cycleway between Tramore and Waterford City

289,000

 

Waterford Co

6.4km cycleway between the City Outer Ring Road to Tramore

310,000

 

Westmeath

11.3km upgrading of canal tow path from Boardstown Bridge to county Boundary

451,000



  *Outside of the NCN Programme Kerry Co Council received funding of €200,000 in 2012, approved in 2010, to complete the Tralee/Spa/Fenit 1.8km cycleway.

National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014-2016 - Projects funded

 

 

 

2014

Kerry

Phases 2 & 3 of  the Glenbeigh to Reenard Trail from Glenbeigh to Cahirciveen (26km)

3,458,281

 

Galway

Galway to Moycullen Greenway (12.4km)

2,000,000

 

Waterford

Clonea to Durrow Greenway (7.2km) (completed)

897,739

 

Reallocation of NCN Funding from current programme - July, 2016

2014

Kildare/Meath

Maynooth to the Westmeath County Border (38km) (part of the Dublin to Galway Greenway)

2,533,000

 

Longford

Abbeyshrule to Longford Bridge, Ballymahon (15.2km) (extension to Mullingar to Abbeyshrule Greenway)

513,000

 

Westmeath

Garrycastle to White Gates (2.2km) (extension to the Mullingar to Athlone Greenway)

496,187

 

Stimulus Funding 2014 - Projects funded

2014

Clare

Phase 1 of the West Clare greenway from Ennis to Ballymacquiggan (5km)

400,000

 

Kerry

Phase 1 of the Glenbeigh to Reenard Trail from Cahirciveen to Reenard Point (Fertha Greenway) (5.7km)

450,000

 

Kerry

Tralee Fenit Trail - Phase 1 Rock Street to Casement Station (.42km)

345,000

 

Kildare

Arthur's Way Greenway - Leixlip to Oughterard via Celbridge/Castletown (25km)

311,000

 

Limerick

Patrickswell to Limerick City cycleway (4.14km) #

420,000

 

Mayo

Monasteries of the Moy (14km) - part funding of overall project

250,000

 

Roscommon

Boyle to Lough Key Forest Park (24km) - part funding of overall project

250,000

 

Tipperary

Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir Greenway (20km)

1,900,000

 

Waterford

Kilmeaden to Bilberry Greenway (20km)

1,100,000

 

Westmeath

Athlone to Mullingar Greenway (40km)#

4,000,000

 

Westmeath

Coolnahay to the County Boundary (14.4)#

700,000



  #additional funding awarded to Kildare (104k); Limerick (155k); and Westmeath (3.2k)
        

 

Dail Debates & Questions March - June 2016

 

(1)                Tourism Promotion - 22 March 2016

(2)                Wild Atlantic Way Project - 22 March 2016

(3)                Inland Waterways By-laws – 22 March 2016

(4)                Commonage Framework Plans (1) – 14/4 2016

(5)                Commonage Framework Plans (2) – 14/4/ 2016

(6)                Foreshore Issues – 14 April 2016

(7)                Rights of Way Registration – 14 April 2016

(8)                Mountain Access Schemes - 26 April2016

(9)                Farm Assist Scheme Data – 4 May 2014

(10)            Mountain Access Schemes (1) 4 May 2016

(11)            Mountain Access Schemes (2) 4 May 2016

(12)            Greenways Funding – 17 May 2016

(13)            Wild Atlantic Way Project – 17 May 2016

(14)            Rights of Way Provision – 18 May 2016

(15)            National Monuments – 31 May 2016

(16)            Greenways Funding – 15 June 2016

(17)            New Planning Procedures -22 June 2016

 

 

  (1)        Tourism Promotion - 22 March 2016

 570. Deputy Tony McLoughlin  Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to ensure the development of new activity-tourism infrastructure in the north west; if exciting activity-tourism projects such as the Sligo greenway and Coolaney National Mountain Bike Centre will attract new tourists to the region; if the north west region can become a major activity-tourism hub; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4842/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe):  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Sligo County Council submitted a proposal to my Department for funding under the National Cycle Network Funding Programme 2014-2016 for the Sligo section of the Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties Greenway.  While funding was not awarded on that occasion I understand that in the interim Sligo County Council have been developing the planning and environmental elements associated with this proposal in order to be best placed under future funding calls.

As regards funding for cycling infrastructure, to date this has been focussed on Greenways and urban infrastructure.  Funding may be available through EU funded schemes for other types of cycling tourism measures and contact should be made with the North and Western Regional Assembly for advice in this regard.

In regard to the development of activity tourism and the development of activity tourism infrastructure, these are operational matters for Fáilte Ireland.  Accordingly, I have asked the agency to reply directly to the Deputy with further detail.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

 

(2)        Wild Atlantic Way Project - 22 March 2016

 578. Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount spent to market the Wild Atlantic Way internationally each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5025/16]

 579. Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount spent in each year to market the Wild Atlantic Way internationally since its inception as an attraction to enjoy during the winter months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5026/16]

 580. Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on the enormous potential to market the Wild Atlantic Way internationally as an all year round attraction to help boost our winter tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5027/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe):  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 578 to 580, inclusive, together.

  The autumn/winter season is already recognised as being of significant importance for the tourism industry in Ireland as it usually yields as much as 30% of our annual overseas tourism business. Figures published last week by the CSO show that the number of overseas visits to Ireland grew by 17.8% between October and December 2015, when compared with the same period in 2014.

  Tourism Ireland's 2016 business plan includes objectives to highlight unique and motivating iconic visitor experiences, including the Wild Atlantic Way, and to present the island of Ireland as an exciting destination to visit in the off-peak season.

  Decisions on how the Wild Atlantic Way is marketed overseas is a matter for Tourism Ireland Limited, and in the case of the domestic tourism market, it is a matter for Fáilte Ireland.  These decisions are not subject to my approval. Accordingly, I have also referred the Deputy's Parliamentary Questions to both agencies for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

 

 

(3)        Inland Waterways By-laws – 22 March 2016

 602. Deputy Finian McGrath  Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will support the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and its call for new canal by-laws via a dedicated canal Bill (details supplied) as our canals are an important amenity which is part of our heritage and can be a great source for tourism; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [5332/16]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys):  Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Heritage Bill 2015, published by my Department in December last, included provisions to amend the Canals Act 1986 so as to allow for the subsequent making of bye-laws to regulate boating on the canals and to manage the use of the canals. The 1988 Canal Bye-Laws have been in force for some 27 years and need to be revised to reflect changes in the use of the canals over the intervening years. The proposed changes would allow Waterways Ireland to make new bye-laws to proactively manage the Royal and Grand Canals, as well as the Barrow Navigation.

The proposed amendments to the Canals Act 1986 were designed to provide for the regulation of the canals; the issue of permits or licences to regulate the use of boats on the canals and on canal property; the regulation of the type or class of boat which may be used on the canals; the regulation of berths and moorings and the placing of buoys on the canals or other canal property; the regulation and care of animals on the canals and other canal property; the appointment and powers of authorised officers and the service of directions.

Our waterways make a vital contribution to tourism, attracting visitors from around Ireland and from abroad. With approximately 500 boats on the three systems, Waterways Ireland is seeking to encourage more visiting boats onto the waterways. However, the existing bye-law regime is not conducive to advancing this objective. The proposed legislative changes were intended to encourage tourism and leisure craft users by supporting the investment already made by Waterways Ireland in new infrastructure and facilities along the canals and by enhancing Waterways Ireland’s ability to manage, maintain and develop the canals as a vibrant recreational and tourist amenity for all waterway users.

A decision on whether to proceed with the Heritage Bill 2015, which has passed Second Stage in Seanad Eireann

 

 

 

(4)        Commonage Framework Plans (1) – 14 April 2016

 228. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney the method of selection of agricultural planners to prepare plans for commonages under the green low-carbon agri-environment scheme; the number of planners he has appointed; their names and the amount of commonage allocated to each planner; if he agreed rules or guidelines regarding the fees that could be charged; if there is a mechanism whereby farmers in a commonage may select an alternative planner to the one selected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6864/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney):  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department issued a circular to all commonage advisors detailing the process for assigning commonage advisors to individual commonages.

Applications by advisors were required to be accompanied by the signatures of shareholders supporting their application for assignment. In cases where more than one advisor applied, appointments were made in accordance with the advised criteria. When appointments were made the successful advisor was notified in writing and where more than one advisor had applied unsuccessful candidates were also notified and given a right of review if dissatisfied.

Where no commonage advisor expressed an interest in a particular commonage, a further circular issued on 5 August again inviting expressions of interest by 20 August. Where no application was received on foot of this second circular my Department proceeded to nominate and assign advisors.

My Department did not set any rules or guidelines in relation to fees but the GLAS payment to farmers with commonage was increased from €79 per hectare to €120 per hectare to take account of additional costs to the farmer.

The application and selection process required the support of shareholders and the governing circular provided that in cases where there was serious disagreement with the advisor appointed the matter could be referred to the Commonage Implementation Committee.

The detailed information requested on the appointment of Advisors to individual commonages has been forwarded directly to the Deputy concerned.

 

 

(5)        Commonage Framework Plans (2) – 14 April 2016

 229. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of agricultural planners he has selected to prepare commonage plans in Connemara under the green low-carbon agri-environment scheme; the number of commonages and hectares allocated to each planner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6865/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney):  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department has compiled a database of Commonages throughout the country, which is publicly available on the Department’s website and is regularly updated.  Information on the commonages can be freely obtained from this database, which can be accessed through the following link: http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/glas/glastranche1/commonagedataforglas/.

 

(6)        Foreshore Issues – 14 April 2016

 263. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh  Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald to examine the maps (details supplied) and outline why Ordnance Survey Ireland adjusted the shoreline and foreshore in 2014 from its original state in 1912, moving it several hundred feet into the lake and effectively giving a private company property that should belong to Waterways Ireland; and when, why and by whom this was done and sanctioned. [6329/16]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):  Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) is the national mapping agency of Ireland. It is the State body responsible for the official, definitive surveying and topographic mapping of the Republic of Ireland. As this mapping is topographic, it only represents the physical features on the ground at the time of the survey. The mapping details supplied refer to the physical features of a section of Killinure Lough, County Westmeath. These particular features were captured by Ordnance Survey Ireland in 2004 and accordingly updated.

In 1985, the then Chief Boundary Surveyor delegated authority for minor boundary changes to the Ordnance Survey. It was within this delegation of authority that the townland modifications at Killinure Lough took place. However, I am advised by Ordnance Survey Ireland that acting on legal advice received from the Office of the Attorney General, the original cartographic representation of the townlands affected by the lake line change is being re-established as per the original Boundary Register and Sketch Maps archived in the National Archives.

I should clarify that Ordnance Survey Ireland maps never indicate legal property boundaries, nor do they show ownership of physical features. Although some property boundaries may be coincident with surveyed map features, no assumptions should be made in these instances and consequently it is not possible to identify a legal 

 

(7)        Rights of Way Registration – 14 April 2016

 266. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae  Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the status of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who has to register uncontested rights of way; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6683/16]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):  Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised by the Property Registration Authority (PRA) that based on the information supplied, the case in question would appear to relate to a potential registration of an easement [right of way] acquired by prescription under Section 49A of the Registration of Title Act 1964 as inserted by Section 41 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011.

  Rule 46 of the Land Registration Rules 2012, as amended by the Land Registration Rules 2013, provides that an application under Section 49A may be made in Form 68 of the said Rules. Alternatively an application can be made to court under Section 35 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2016.

The PRA’s practice in relation to such an application and in relation to the mapping of same is set out in its practice directions “Easements and Profits à Prendre Acquired by Prescription under Section 49A” and “Mapping Practice” available on the PRA website 
www.prai.ie  .

The PRA fee for an application to register such an easement is prescribed by the Land Registration (Fees) Order 2012 as €130 and is not dependent on the number of folios that comprise the servient tenement (i.e. the land over which the easement exists).

(8)        Mountain Access Schemes (1) - 26 April2016

 430. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly the steps taken to ensure continued open access to mountains and other areas for hill climbers and for general recreational use on such lands in view of the recent court case where €40,000 damages was awarded against the National Parks and Wildlife Service; if he has discussed this matter with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; if a memorandum will be brought to Government in relation to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8122/16]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Ann Phelan):  Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan As the Deputy will be aware, my Department operates a Walks Scheme covering certain National Way Marked Ways and Trails, which are accredited by the National Trails Office. Insurance arrangements are in place that indemnify private landowners whose lands are traversed by those trails.

  In relation to facilitating access to mountains and upland areas for recreational purposes, my Department is continuing to liaise with the State Claims Agency regarding the development of a National Indemnity Scheme for private landowners, who facilitate access to their lands in upland areas for recreational purposes. The purpose of the Scheme is to indemnify participating private landowners against civil suits .     

  Regarding the recent Court proceedings referred to by the Deputy, I have not had discussions with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in relation to the case. However, I am advised that the Minister has appealed the matter to the High Court.  

 

 

 

(9)        Farm Assist Scheme Data – 4 May 2014

 5. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice  Information on Michael Fitzmaurice  Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton the number of persons in receipt of farm assist, by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [8808/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton):  Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton The information requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement.

Recipients of Farm Assist by county at 31 March 2016

 

Carlow

63

Cavan

286

Clare

429

Cork

624

Donegal

1,309

Dublin

32

Galway

785

Kerry

572

Kildare

21

Kilkenny

95

Laois

97

Leitrim

343

Limerick

150

Longford

171

Louth

69

Mayo

1,259

Meath

54

Monaghan

372

Offaly

80

Roscommon

313

Sligo

227

Tipperary

280

Waterford

66

Westmeath

128

Wexford

163

Wicklow

51

 

Total

8,039

 

 

(10)        Mountain Access Schemes (2) 4 May 2016

 284. Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly if compensation is available to persons (details supplied) in County Kerry who allow hill walkers to use trails on their lands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8906/16]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Ann Phelan):  Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan My Department administers a Walks Scheme, which provides modest payments to landowners to maintain sections of walking trails that traverse their lands. It does not affect their property rights and is not a payment for access purposes. Due to budgetary constraints it has not been possible to expand the existing Walks Scheme in recent years to include additional walks such as the one referred to in the details supplied. However, there continue to be 39 trails covered by my Department’s Walks Scheme and in 2015 payments to participants exceeded €1.8m. The number of participants currently on the Scheme stands at approximately 1,900.

 

 

(11)        Mountain Access Schemes (3) 4 May 2016

 285. Deputy Declan Breathnach  Information on Declan Breathnach  Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly if all community and voluntary groups which have undertaken work on land and property belonging to a local authority or the State will be indemnified against any possible claims where agreement has been reached within these bodies, given recent claims against the National Parks and Wildlife Service.  [8973/16]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Ann Phelan):  Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan Under the Walks Scheme, managed by my Department, all landowners and occupiers whose property or land is traversed or adjoins a recreational trail that has been inspected and approved by the National Trails Office, are indemnified by a commercial company.

In relation to the Deputy’s specific query, any community or voluntary group which has undertaken work on land or property belonging to a local authority or other State body, should liaise directly with the local authority or State body in question and may be required to have public liability insurance in place.

 

 

 

(12)        Greenways Funding – 17 May 2016

 1123. Deputy Tony McLoughlin  Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when he will open the €100 million greenway fund for applications from greenways, such as the Sligo Greenway which will be part of the Western Railway Greenway; the timeline for allocating the fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9681/16]

 1140. Deputy Tony McLoughlin  Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if the Sligo Greenway, which aims to protect the rail line from Bellaghy to Collooney in County Sligo for future use whilst also providing a vital item of tourism infrastructure for the north west, should be funded under the €100 million greenway fund with regard to the Western Rail Corridor, as contained in the new programme for Government, and given that he will shortly begin to implement an independent cost benefit analysis and review for the Western Rail Corridor between Athenry in County Galway and Claremorris in County Mayo for commuter and freight use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10232/16]

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. 1123 and 1140 together.

I have yet to decide on how the €100 million earmarked for Smarter Travel projects in the Programme for Government is to be invested.  However, I am confident that investment in greenways will continue given the economic and social benefits they bring to communities, particularly those in rural areas. 

As the Deputy will be aware, funding  from my Department for the delivery of greenways is awarded to local authorities by way of a competitive process. In advance of future funding calls it would be important for interested parties and/or local authorities with a project in mind to endeavour to have all statutory requirements, land ownership/access issues etc. in place so as to be well placed to compete for any funding which comes on stream over the coming years.

 

 

 

(13)        Wild Atlantic Way Project – 17 May 2016

 1134. Deputy Timmy Dooley  Information on Timmy Dooley  Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the cost-benefit analysis or business case appraisal he has undertaken prior to the announcement of €100 million for the Wild Atlantic Way; the conclusions and recommendations of these; if he will provide an indicative list of the type of projects that he and Fáilte Ireland expect to be funded by this allocation; the timeframe in this regard; and the boost in tourism numbers, revenues and employment he expects from this funding allocation. [10032/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross):  Information on Shane P.N. Ross  Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Programme for Government provides that the Government will seek to set aside €100 million in additional capital funding to take the Wild Atlantic Way to the next level, including an Atlantic Blueway route, and the Ireland Way, and to invest further in developing a nationwide Greenway network. As part of this additional funding, the Government also proposes to double the funding available for the Rural Walks Scheme from €2 million to €4 million to increase the number of walks covered from 40 to 80.

The Programme for Government recognises the achievement of the Wild Atlantic Way and other tourism initiatives in revitalising tourism and demonstrates the Government's commitment to achieving the tourism policy goals set for 2025. These include increasing revenue from overseas visitors to €5 billion (net of inflation), growing employment in the tourism and hospitality sector to 250,000 and increasing the number of overseas visits to Ireland to 10 million per year.

Public expenditure on tourism initiatives is undertaken by the tourism agencies, i.e. Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland in accordance with public financial procedures. Cost benefit analyses, business cases, and project plans would tend to be undertaken on a project by project basis, rather than at the level of a Programme for Government.

 

 

(14)        Rights of Way Provision – 18 May 2016

 106. Deputy Brendan Griffin  Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide details of the directive sent to local authorities in respect of the inclusion of public rights of way in development plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10719/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney):  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney Section 7 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 requires the inclusion of a mandatory objective in an area’s development plan for “the preservation of public rights of way which give access to seashore, mountain, lakeshore, riverbank or other place of natural beauty or recreational utility, which public rights of way shall be identified both by marking them on at least one of the maps forming part of the development plan and by indicating their location on a list appended to the development plan”.

  In October 2012, my Department issued Circular Letter PL09/2012 to planning authorities reminding them of their statutory obligation under planning legislation in this regard.

  In August 2015, my Department issued a further Circular Letter PL 5/2015 to planning authorities which provided clarification between the status of permissive trails as distinct from public rights of ways.

Public rights of way are deemed accessible at all times by members of the public. Members of the public, such as recreational users, entering onto these designated routes do so by right and not by permission. Many of these rights of way are indicated by local authorities in their development plans. Many other walking routes exist on a permissive access basis, for example “The National Waymarked Way Network”  . These routes are permissive in nature and, as distinct from public rights of way, consent can be withdrawn anytime by the landowner. 

  Circular Letter PL 5/2015 further advised planning authorities on the degree to which the existence of such permissive trails, given their status, should be taken on board in arriving at decisions on planning applications and appeals.

(15)        National Monuments – 31 May 2016

 564. Deputy Robert Troy  Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform  Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of visitors to each of the 780 national monuments that are open to visitors managed by the OPW for the most recent year available and to provide a breakdown of the list by visits to each site. [13465/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy SeánCanney):  Information on Seán Canney  Zoom on Seán Canney The Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the day-to-day running of all National Monuments and National Historic Properties (i.e. those in State ownership or guardianship). It has a conservation remit to maintain the National Monuments in State care and an active role in facilitating presentation and public access under the terms of the National Monuments Act 1930 which makes provision for the protection and preservation of National Monuments including the admission of the public to National Monuments.

  The approach of the OPW Heritage Services is essentially conservation oriented with the bulk of resources dedicated to this end. The vast majority of properties in State care are presented to the public without specific visitor facilities such as a guide service. Public access to heritage attractions has a high priority and much effort has been made to improve access and information at all built heritage sites. 

There are a total of almost 1,000 individual National Monuments in State care at approximately 768 locations around the country. These are managed and maintained by the OPW and include both sites which are in full State ownership and others which are privately-owned but where Guardianship arrangements exist and where the OPW provides maintenance services. A small number of sites have National Monuments which are State owned and others which are privately held at the same location. 

  As a general policy, the OPW facilitates visitor access to as many National Monument sites as possible. However, access is not always feasible because of a range of issues including physical location, risks associated with dangerous structures and restrictions imposed in some cases by landowners who may wish to limit access, either temporarily or more longer term, by reason of accident risk, livestock etc. The OPW would estimate that approximately 10% of the National Monument sites in its care are not accessible at any given time.

  As part of its remit, the OPW also provides enhanced visitor access, together with guide facilities in some cases, at approx. 70 of the more prominent visitor locations nationally. These include many of the most iconic heritage sites in the country such as Kilmainham Gaol, the Rock of Cashel, Newgrangeetc as well as a number of smaller, less well known properties. In general visitor numbers are only recorded at those sites where there is a guide service. However, there are a small number of sites where footfall counters have been installed. The following table shows all visitor numbers available for 2015.

 

2015 Visitor Numbers

Site Name

Total

-

-

Altamont

58,435

Arás

4,343

Ardfert Cathedral

7,802

Athenry Castle

10,848

Aughnanure Castle

36,929

Ballyhack Castle

2,613

Battle of the Boyne/ Oldbridge Estate

58,053

Blasket Centre

48,261

Boyle Abbey

6,919

BrúnaBóinne

44,705

Newgrange

150,125


Knowth

69,057

Cahir Castle

68,532

Carrowmore

37,566

Casino Marino

18,141

Castletown House & Parklands

297,691

Céide Fields

32,821

Charles Fort

86,849

Clonmacnoise

157,660

Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre

5,331

Derrynane House

26,961

Desmond Castle

9,493

Desmond Hall

11,150

Donegal Castle

47,136

Dublin Castle

231,178

DúnAonghasa

120,104

Dungarvan Castle

17,280

Dunmore Cave

43,767

Durrow Abbey*

5,264

Emo Court

13,244

Ennis Friary

11,377

Famine War House*

2,825

Farmleigh Estate

410,076

Ferns Castle

9,440

Gallarus Castle

51,816

Garinish Island

58,557

Glebe House and Gallery

23,085

Glendalough Visitor Centre

79,182

Grianan of Aileach*

107,968

Hill of Tara*

159,686

J F Kennedy Arboretum

96,910

Jerpoint Abbey

23,442

Kilkenny Castle

282,588

Kilmacurragh Gardens

67,083

Kilmainham Gaol

326,635

Listowel

8,110

Loughcrew

14,416

Main Guard

7,951

Maynooth Castle

21,843

Mellifont Abbey

12,493

National Botanic Gardens

553,348

Newmills Corn and Flax Mills

4,173

Parke's Castle

16,620

Pearse Museum

35,418

Pearse's Cottage

8,946

Phoenix Park Visitor Centre

141,582

Portumna Castle

14,237

Rathfarnham Castle

3,737

Reginald's Tower

30,818

Reginald's Tower - French Church

3,212

Rock of Cashel

300,749

Roscrea Heritage

25,715

Ross Castle

95,785

Scattery Island

1,750

Skellig Michael

12,560

Sligo Abbey

15,592

St. Audoen's Church

33,092

St. Mary's Church, Gowran

2,634

Swiss Cottage

24,146

Tintern Abbey

15,227

Trim Castle

86,972

* New passive footfall counter installed

-

 

 

(16)        Greenways Funding – 15 June “016

Deputy Peter Burke: Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke I wish the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, the very best in his new Department. I note that he has been to Ballymahon and Athlone in relation to this project and assessing the viability of the greenways. First, I will focus on the Westmeath section. The Government has commissioned a cycle route from Mullingar to Athlone at a cost of €7 million, which came from the economic stimulus fund. This has been a huge success for the area. When discussing these projects, it is important to use the word "greenways". What we mean by that is that they are suitable for cycling, walking, running and family events, which brings the whole community together. I note that activity has increased sharply along the Mullingar to Athlone greenway and the use has been significant over the last number of weeks. Car parks are being developed at key locations along the greenway to ensure maximum use. However, the Athlone section of the greenway needs an extension from Garrycastle, where the greenway currently ends, to White Gates in Athlone. This is a ready-made project and would have huge benefits in terms of providing access through to the regional sports centre and three schools. It would form part of the regeneration of the area. I urge the Minister, having been to Athlone and hearing first-hand from the officials, to progress this project and authorise funding from his Department. There could be huge community gains.

I will focus now on County Longford. I acknowledge the huge work that Longford County Council is doing in relation to the greenway network. The local authority has a proposal to progress a section from Abbeyshrule to Ballymahon and Killashee. The Part 8 planning permission process has been completed for the section and, as such, I point out that this is a ready-to-go project. I urge the Minister to consider strongly approving funding within the Department for the project. He was also in Ballymahon where I attended a meeting at which he met the officials of Longford County Council. The previous Minister, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, was also in the area where he met with the local authority and public representatives to discuss this worthwhile project. Longford County Council has invested a huge amount of funding in this, €50,000 on two occasions. I also understand that Longford Tourism invested €250,000. A lot of people in Longford are frustrated about the finishing off of the national spatial strategy which precluded the county from applying for a lot of different streams of funding. That was because of the gateway status heretofore. However, with the dawn of the CenterParcs project, the Government has a key chance to invest in County Longford to make it a hub for tourism. That can be developed now. Fáilte Ireland is aggressively promoting Ireland's Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and this is a key project it can get behind in terms of the whole gateway status in County Longford and County Westmeath. In turn, that would improve tourism in the county and have massive economic benefit. It also has great health benefits for the area. Families and communities can gain the rewards from this investment and enjoy the fruits of it.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank the Deputy for bringing this very important issue to my attention. Indeed, I have had more questions on this particular issue in the last two days than I have had on anything else. Greenways are all the rage.

As the Deputy said, I was recently in County Westmeath and met with him, my colleague, Deputy Kevin Moran, councillors and officials from Westmeath County Council. I was taken by their commitment to developing greenways in County Westmeath and was impressed by the significant work carried out to date on both the old rail trail from Mullingar to Athlone and the greenway from Mullingar to Abbeyshrule in County Longford. Both projects were funded by my Department as was the original section of this greenway from the Meath border to Mullingar alongside the Royal Canal. To date, I understand that Westmeath County Council has been provided with funding of €8.7 million for greenway development in the county. This shows the commitment of both Westmeath and my Department to the development of these wonderful amenities. Indeed, Westmeath is the centre of much of the greenway network that we have in this country. From the county border with County Meath to Abbeyshrule in Longford and Athlone, there is a grand total of just over 80 km of greenways in County Westmeath.

With regard to County Longford, I understand that the county council has done some very good work to date with no funding from other sources to achieve planning permission for its own cycle network in the county. It also provided the entire funding to extend the greenway from the county border with Westmeath into the village of Abbeyshrule. This is an example to other local authorities of what can be achieved through a bottom-up approach to the development of greenway projects. With the prospect of the CenterParcs facility opening near Ballymahon in a few years, the future for tourism in County Longford is looking very positive.

As part of my Department's plans for the Galway to Dublin greenway, we hope to continue the greenway from Garrycastle to the marina in Athlone and westwards across the Shannon to Galway. I understand that Westmeath County Council has planning in place for this section and is shortly to submit an application for planning for a new bridge across the Shannon from the marina. I understand that the proposed extension from Garrycastle to White Gates provides links to a number of schools and colleges in Athlone and would therefore provide the opportunity to assist in increasing the numbers cycling to school and college. This is a hugely important benefit to those living in Athlone and the surrounding area and would also be of benefit to the younger generation in educating them and encouraging them in the use of more sustainable forms of transport.

(17)         Planning Issues – 22 June 2016

 252. Deputy Pat Deering  Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will introduce the submission of planning applications and comments electronically by e-mail with reference to changes to the planning process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17169/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney):  Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney The Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was published in January 2016 and is currently on the Dáil Order Paper awaiting Second Stage, proposes to amend section 33 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide that the Minister may , subsequent to the enactment of the Bill, make regulations to facilitate the on-line submission of planning applications and appeals, including relevant fees, by electronic means (referred to as e-planning) to planning authorities and An BordPleanála respectively. The Bill further proposes that decisions in relation to planning applications and appeals may also be dealt with by planning authorities and An BordPleanála respectively by electronic means.

 

These proposals are amongst a broad package of measures currently being developed by my Department to facilitate the streamlining of the planning process, to bring it up to date technologically, and to make it more administratively efficient. I would be anxious to make the necessary regulations in this regard at an early date, following enactment of the Bill.

 

Dail Debates & Questions Jan/Feb 2016

 

(1)         Planning Review

(2)         Foreshore Issues

(3)          Planning Issues ( Promoting active and healthy living)

(4)         Charter of Rights for farmers

(5)         Charter of Rights for farmers

(6)         National Parks Closures

(7)         Waterways Issues

 

(1)        Planning Issues – 13 January 2016

 848. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd  Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly the findings of the preliminary MacCabeDurney Barnes report into the performance of planning functions in respect of six planning authorities; his response and the details of meetings held as a result; his observations on same; the detail surrounding such observations; the facts in relation to the revising of the preliminary findings report; how many times it was revised; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46698/15]

 849. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd  Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly when he recieved the written report of MacCabeDurney Barnes into the performance of planning functions in respect of six planning authorities; the recommendations made; if he will publish it; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46699/15]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly):  Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 848 and 849 together.

MacCabeDurney Barnes Consultants were appointed in February 2014 to carry out an independent planning review on the performance of planning functions having regard to specific planning issues in respect of six planning authorities (Carlow, Cork, Galway and Meath County Councils and Cork and Dublin City Councils) in accordance with section 255 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.   

  In line with the Terms of Reference, MacCabeDurney Barnes Consultants submitted a Preliminary Findings Report or draft Report on 2 October 2014 and my Department subsequently met with the consultants on 20 February 2015 to review my Department’s observations on the draft Report. Subsequently, the consultants were requested to circulate the relevant parts of the draft Report to the relevant planning authorities and complainants in finalising the report which is broadly in line with the draft Report.   


  I received the final report from the consultants in July 2015 and, after having fully considered its contents, I published the Independent Planning Review of The Performance of Planning Functions having regard to Specific Issues raised in respect of Six Planning Authorities – Final Report by MacCabeDurney Barnes on 15 December 2015. The independent Review Report has not found that the planning system is broken or fundamentally flawed from a legislative and policy framework perspective, but that certain systems and procedures need to be reviewed and enhanced to achieve the standards of transparency, consistency and accountability that a modern society expects.   

  I also published my Department’s response to the report entitled Response of the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government to the 

Independent Planning Review of the Performance of Planning Functions having regard to Specific Issues raised in respect of Six Planning Authorities outlining steps to be taken in the implementation of all 29 recommendations by legislative, regulatory and policy level changes.   

  Both reports are available on my Department’s website at
http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Planning/.

 

 

(2)        Foreshore Issues – 13 January 2016

 860. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív  Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government  Information on Alan Kelly