New supports are a key deliverable under Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors, the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2023-2027
County Outdoor Recreation Plans will help guide and facilitate the future development of outdoor recreation and will support future applications for funding for outdoor amenities
Outdoor Recreation Officer posts approved in six counties under three-year pilot programme in association with Sport Ireland.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today (Thursday, 28th December 2023) announced funding of €780,000 to support the development of ‘County Outdoor Recreation Plans’ and issued new national guidelines to assist in their preparation.
Funding of €1.28 million, over 3 years, has also been approved for a pilot programme to introduce County Outdoor Recreation Officers in six Local Sport Partnerships – Clare, Longford, Sligo, Waterford, Mayo, and Meath.
The funding is part of a commitment in Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors, the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2023-2027, which sets the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come.
Support for investment planning at county level
Among the key actions in the strategy is the development of County Outdoor Recreation Plans and the establishment of a County Outdoor Recreation Committee in order to achieve a more planned and coordinated approach for the development of outdoor recreation in the county.
Each county will now receive funding of up to €30,000 to develop a short, focussed plan to underpin the effective development of their outdoor recreation amenities. New guidelines have also been published to ensure that the plans are aligned with the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy.
The plans should take into account the current outdoor recreation amenities in an area and outline where outdoor recreation infrastructure and services should be located over a three-year period.
Future investment decisions in each county will then be informed by these plans, including funding decisions taken under schemes such as the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS).
Three-year pilot to support New County Outdoor Recreation Officer posts
Funding of over €400,000 per year is also being made available by the Department of Rural and Community Development for new Outdoor Recreation Officer posts in 6 Local Sports Partnerships – Clare, Longford, Mayo, Meath, Sligo and Waterford.
This is part of a 3-year pilot programme which is being delivered in collaboration with Sport Ireland. These officers will provide expertise and guidance to the outdoor recreation sector in the county and will co-ordinate the development and the delivery of the County Outdoor Recreation Plan in their county.
Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said:
“More than ever people are getting active in the outdoors and we want to make sure everyone has access to high quality amenities and experiences. That’s why I am pleased to announce these new supports today.
“This is a significant opportunity to identify the key outdoor recreation priorities and opportunities for each county. I would urge the local communities to engage with the consultation process so that they can shape the vision for the future of outdoor recreation in their local area”.
CEO of Sport Ireland, Dr Úna May, welcomed the announcement:
“I am delighted to see these roles being introduced to augment and support our strong network of Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs). The development of outdoor recreation has always been an integral part of Sport Ireland’s ambition to get more people participating in sport and physical activity, and achieve the Government’s target of 60% participation rates amongst Irish adults by 2027. These new Outdoor Recreation Officers will play a significant part in the step change to greater impact in counties across the country”.
Minister Humphreys concluded:
“The supports announced today are part of a wide range of initiatives we are undertaking to further develop our outdoor recreation sector right throughout the country and they are central to the delivery of Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors – the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2023-2027. This is underpinned by an unprecedented level of investment in the sector across Government.”
More information on County Outdoor Recreation Plans can be found here.