IFA National Hill Farming Committee Chairman Caillin Conneely has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys to develop 70 new trails on the Walks Scheme.
Once completed, these 70 new trails will bring the total number included in the scheme to 150, in line with the commitment set out in the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’. Increasing the number of trails on the Walks Scheme to 150 was previously set out in IFA’s 2023 pre-Budget Submission.
“The Walks Scheme has a significant impact on the development of recreational activities, boosting rural tourism and supporting farmers who provide access to their land. The additional €2.4m in funding will see the total number of farmers and landowners to benefit from the scheme increase to 2,500 over the next two years.”
“A commitment to review to the number of Rural Recreation Officers (RROs), as outlined by the Minister, as soon as possible is essential to ensure that staff are in place to assist farmers and landowners in the delivery of the scheme, especially where new trails are established,” he said.
The Chairman called on the Minister to ensure that the labour rate for farmers who maintain the walks is also increased in line with revised TAMS costings. The increase must apply to both existing and new participants, including farmers in the middle of their current contracts.
The application process is now open to trail management committees, community groups and other similar entities for expressions of interest through Local Development Companies until Friday, June 23rd.