29th March 2021 | Press Releases, Regional Development, Rural

‘Progressive and sustainable vision’ for rural Ireland will make our communities a better place to live – Greens

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The new Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, along with investment in sustainable active travel, will transform rural Ireland, create new opportunities and offer a better quality of life according to the Green Party.

The Policy, ‘Our Rural Future’, reflects the unprecedented change in living and working patterns during COVID-19 and outlines 150 actions for rural Ireland linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. These changes have presented significant opportunities for rural communities, from remote working and revitalising our town centres to job creation, developing a green economy and enhancing our outdoor amenities.

The policy recognises that an integrated, whole of Government approach is needed to drive rural development that encourages local communities to develop their own long-term plans.

Measures outlined in the Policy include:

  • €2.7 billion in the delivery of high-speed broadband to rural areas.
  • €1 billion under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to support ambitious projects to regenerate towns and settlements of less than 10,000 people.
  • Up to €100 million through the Town and Village Renewal Scheme over the next five years to support a Town Centre First approach by addressing vacant properties and encouraging more people to live in our town centres.

Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development, Joe O’Brien TD, said:

“’Our Rural Future’ is a progressive and sustainable vision for rural Ireland that sets out ambitious policy goals that will ultimately lead to rural communities across the country being better places to live in and stay in.

“We need to bring people back living in the hearts of our towns and villages. This strategy places the Town Centre First principle at its core, which aims to counter the movement of people, business and services to the outskirts of settlements and bring a sense of place, activity and a focal point back into the centre of our towns and villages. Improved public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure and charging networks are key factors too in making rural Ireland more interconnected.

“We need to ensure that rural Ireland is a better and more viable place for people to live in and for young people in particular to stay, or to return to, or raise a family. This new strategy ‘Our Rural Future’ maps out the various practical ways that we can do this.”

Today also saw the announcement of the first ever major active travel investment programme for rural Ireland, with €72.8 million to be invested in 340 sustainable transport projects in 19 local authorities. This funding is greater than the entire 2019 funding for national walking and cycling programmes and comes in addition to the €240 million announced for cities earlier this year.

Green Party Spokesperson for Transport, Brian Leddin TD, said:

“Making walking and cycling safer is better for health, better for the economy, and better for the environment. This funding announcement demonstrates this government’s commitment to investing in rural and regional areas and to building a better, safer and more equal society.”