'Our Rural Future' could transform how we live and work in Offaly
The Government has published 'Our Rural Future', a policy it describes as the 'most ambitious and transformational policy' for rural development in decades.
The Government says the policy reflects the unprecedented change in living and working patterns during COVID-19 and the significant opportunities this presents for rural communities - from remote working and revitalising town centres to job creation, developing a green economy and enhancing our outdoor amenities.
The five year strategy was launched in Croke Park yesterday by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, and Minister for Transport and the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan.
It is supported by 150 commitments across Government, which will address the challenges facing communities and deliver new opportunities for people living in rural areas.
The policy will help rural Ireland to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, enable long-term development of rural areas, and create more resilient rural economies and communities for the future.
Some of the key investments being undertaken to maximise investment and meet the long term needs of villages and towns:
- €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.
- €100m for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme - addressing vacant properties and encouraging more people to live in our town centres.
- Over €72m in 2021 for high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure targeted at towns and villages across the country.
- 400 IDA investments for the regions
- 19 Advance Technology Buildings in regional locations by the IDA
- Significant investment will be made in remote working facilities, building on more than €50 million invested in the last five years by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
- €555m for the maintenance and renewal of the regional and local roads network in 2021 alone.
- €50m for the Local Improvement Scheme over the next five years.
Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly, Barry Cowen, has welcomed the publication of the Government’s “Our Rural Future” strategy that looks to transform and develop rural Ireland.
Deputy Cowen commented, “the Our Rural Future plan is the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural regional development in decades. It will see the targeted revitalisation of rural Ireland within five years.
“We have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has presented changes to living and working patterns and the significant opportunities this presents for communities across Laois and Offaly - this policy reflects those opportunities from remote working and revitalising our town centres to job creation, developing a green economy and enhancing our outdoor amenities.
"A key feature of the Government formation talks, which I pursued, was new, better, targeted initiatives to reinvigorate towns that have been hollowed out in recent years. I'm pleased to see these incentives and provisions now materialising, I will ensure to get the relevant details out to communities in the coming days for consideration and look forward to working with my colleagues of all parties and none to ensure these opportunities are finally acted upon across towns in Offaly,'' he concluded.
Offaly Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett has also welcomed the new policy. Minister Hackett commented, "as someone who lives in rural Ireland, I am really looking forward to seeing what Our Rural Future can deliver in the years ahead. I’m delighted to see that many areas, which are important to me, are included. It asks us to deliver a close to nature forestry model for Ireland, and my recently announced Project Woodland will play a major role in delivering that.
“Working closely with farmers will also be important for our rural future - to deliver for nature through initiatives such as local led schemes and organic farming, and to support more horticulture, and also to work with farmers to reduce emissions and enhance biodiversity in the Agriculture sector.
“I am also looking forward to supporting local authorities to expand the number of farmers’ markets and farm shops around the country, and to showcase local food produce from farmers, growers, and food producers.”
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