€560K for private lanes in Cavan and Monaghan 'not enough'
Almost €290,000 has been allocated to Cavan County Council for repairs and improvement works on non-public roads in rural communities. Some €270,000 has also been awarded to Monaghan County Council.
But one Cavan councillors says it's not enough and it would take €11M to clear the backlog of approved applications - running at around 220 in County Cavan at present.
The funding was announced by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys as part of a €10.5M nationwide investment under the Local Improvement Scheme.
The focus of the scheme is to support the continued improvement of rural roads and laneways that are not normally maintained by local authorities but which represent a vital piece of infrastructure for rural residents.
Welcoming the funding, Minister Humphreys said: “This is all about improving connectivity for the rural parts of the county – whether it’s people’s homes, farms, or our outdoor amenities.
“I committed to reviving our rural communities under Our Rural Future – now we are putting forward the investment behind the plan.”
Since the scheme was re-introduced in 2017, close to 2,400 roads have been funded for repair works. "This has made a real difference to the lives of over 10,000 landowners and residents in rural Ireland," said the Minister.
However Cavan Fianna Fáil councillor John Paul Feeley has said the funding is only "marginally up" on last year's allocation and is simply not enough.
"The allocation will barely keep pace with construction inflation and is cold comfort to the over 220 applicants on the waiting list at present.
"We have a lot of talk on this issue from the Fine Gael membership of the Council. The latest stunt is to deflect attention from the failure of Minister Humphreys is to try to bring the Minister for Agriculture into the mix," contended Cllr Feeley.
"Funding for the LIS, for lanes serving agricultural holdings with residential properties thereon have always been funding by the Department of Transport until the Minister Varadkar abolished the funding entirely and the current stream of funding from the Department of Community & Rural Affairs has only arisen with former Minister Ring started making allocations in 2017," he continued.
"Despite strong cases made to Minister Ryan and Minister Humphreys nothing meaningful has been done. It is incumbent now on Oireachtas members to make the case for proper sustained funding to address the massive backlog," slammed Cllr Feeley.
He pointed out that Cavan County Council estimate that it would take in the region of €11 million to clear the list. "We need action and a plan for consistent funding this year and over the coming years to get this list down, € 289,254 won’t do much if anything to solve the issue," said Cllr Feeley.
Addressing the issue of funding levels, Minister Humphreys said:
“I am acutely aware that more is needed. I am working to identify if additional funding can be provided for LIS in 2021 and I would therefore urge each local authority to utilise the funding announced today, and complete the repair works on the selected roads, as soon as possible.
“This would position them well to undertake repairs on additional roads before the end of the year should further funding become available,” she said.
Local Authorities are responsible for identifying and prioritising roads for improvement works under the scheme, in consultation with residents/landowners.
The funding provided by the Department of Rural and Community Development will be complemented by a local financial contribution from landowners/householders, as well as Local Authority resources.
There will be a cap of €1,200 on the amount that any individual householder or landowner will be asked to contribute towards the cost of repairs to their road.