East Galway tourism projects to share in €68m fund

Tourism projects in County Roscommon and the Ballinasloe Municipal District of East Galway will now be able to access a new €68m fund allocated to Fáilte Ireland as part of the EU’s Just Transition Funding.

The funds will focus on the existing tourism and Bord na Mona infrastructure with the objective to provide new employment opportunities for workers and communities that were heavily dependent on peat harvesting until the closure of the power stations at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge.

Commenting on the announcement Denis Naughten TD said: “This funding and its focus is very welcome as it will help to deliver long term sustainable jobs across the region to replace the jobs lost in both the ESB and Bord na Mona.

“The closure of the power stations in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge has had a huge impact on the local economy not just in terms of immediate job losses, but also in terms of the impact that this spending had on the sustainability of many other businesses and communities.

“That is why it is imperative this funding is targeted at projects that can deliver long term sustainable employment, not just for the existing employees but for their children and the generations to come. I believe this type of support for local tourism initiatives can help to provide year-round employment and make our area a more attractive location for multi-national investment.”

The projects to be supported across the midland counties of Laois, Westmeath, Offaly, Longford, Roscommon, Galway, Tipperary and Kildare encompasses four strands, namely: Trail Development; Visitor Amenities; Alternative Low Carbon Accommodation and Smart Specialisation, which involves digital transformation.

“It is now imperative that Fáilte Ireland engages with local communities to consider how they can build upon their existing tourism infrastructure and re-develop existing public lands and access into long term tourism sustainable tourism projects,” concluded Denis Naughten.

The European Union’s Just Transition Fund (EU JTF ) is a brand-new fund created under the 2021-2027 programming round. It operates under Regulation (EU ) 2021/1056 within the framework of the EU Cohesion policy.

The Fund’s single specific objective is to support the regions and communities in Europe that are most negatively affected by the transition to climate neutrality, ensuring that no one is left behind.

In essence, the EU JTF aims to address employment, economic, social and environmental impacts that come with the shift away from carbon-intense activities. In Ireland’s case, the territory supported by the Fund will focus on the regions where there have been direct impacts from the move away from peat production and electricity generation from peat.

Ireland is set to receive up to €84.5 million from the EU Just Transition Fund over the period to 2027. With the Government of Ireland’s match funding using Exchequer resources, up to €169 million will be available.

As required in legislation, Ireland has prepared a Territorial Just Transition Plan and accompanying Programme setting out the activities the Fund supports. With the European Commission’s recent adoption of Ireland’s Territorial Plan and the JTF Programme, activities under the programme will begin rolling out in early 2023.

In Ireland the Just Transition Programme focuses on the wider Midlands region, where there have been direct impacts from the move away from peat production and electricity generation from peat. Ireland has been allocated €84m under this fund

East & Midlands Regional Authority (EMRA ) is the Managing Authority for Ireland’s EU Just Transition Programme. The Department of the Environment, Communications & Climate Action are responsible for oversight and governance of Ireland’s Just Transition Fund and will be accountable to the European Commission.

Fáilte Ireland will be an Intermediate Body (IB ) and responsible to implement and deliver the Regenerative Tourism & Placemaking Scheme, as part of the overall Ireland programme . Tourism will contribute to a just transition to an economy that supports and improves the lives of local people by sustaining and creating direct and indirect jobs, the biodiversity of their environment and the experiences of the visitors they welcome.

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Four strands for Reimagining Ireland’s Midlands through Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking

Strand 1: Midlands Trail Network: €30million

To deliver a Strategic Network of Trails which includes the development of a network of connected walking, cycling & water-based trails and related infrastructure including for example the repurposing of former narrow gauge rail track, culverts etc. for cycle ways, and reimagine industrial bridges formally used to transport peat to factories across the JTF region, thematic art installations, signage and interpretation to create a sense of connectivity across the towns and villages and waterways throughout the Just Transition region are also included in this strand.

Strand 2: Amenity Support to Tourism Businesses: €25million

Support public, private and community-based tourism enterprises to develop new and expand existing regenerative and sustainable tourism infrastructure and experiences to help enhance and sustain local economies. The aim is to create new jobs through the stimulation of new, or the expansion of existing tourism enterprises. These enterprises must operate to a high standard in terms of sustainable tourism (e.g., the Global Sustainable Tourism Council standard ).

Supporting small to medium enterprises to provide and/or expand on and off the water activities, including bike hire, water sports (kayaking, SUP, etc ), day-boating and water-taxi services and the development and/or improvement of visitor experiences and attractions, focused on the provision of eco-tourism experiences.

Strand 3: Alternative Low Carbon Accommodation - €3million

Carbon-neutral and low carbon small scale developments at key strategic locations aligned to the trails network and geographically spread across the Just Transition geography to give a demonstration effect and provide confidence to the private sector for future accommodation investments – Carbon Neutral / Low Carbon developments to include repurposed buildings.

Strand 4: Smart Solution Development - €10million

Building on the experience of Fáilte Ireland’s delivery of supports to SME, Smart Solution Development proposes a comprehensive programme of hard and soft supports specifically for the Just Transition Fund region to help deliver Smart solutions and develop more sustainable, commercially viable visitor experiences that prioritise the economic development potential of the region.

This investment will result in widespread benefits for the consumer (reduced prices and time savings ) business (efficiency gains and cost savings ) the destination (clustering activities and highlighting regional offering ) and the economy (exchequer returns, economic benefits and job creations ).

 

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