Rural Laois residents are set to benefit from €250,000 funding for local access roads, according to Laois TD and Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan.
Minister Flanagan said the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) improves quality of life in local areas.
“This scheme continues to be a lifeline for people living in rural areas because it directly improves their access to and from their homes and farms,” he said in a statement.
“It’s important to remember that many people living in rural areas use these roads every day, so when these roads fall into disrepair, it has a significant impact on them. By investing in the improvement of these roads we are helping to improve people’s quality of life in Laois,” he said.
The Fine Gael TD said the upkeep of these roads is a priority for people this funding, in conjunction with the local community's own resources and the resources of Laois County Council, will allow for the maintenance and improvement of many local roads in rural areas.
He said local authorities are still completing projects approved under the last round of funding in October 2018.
The Minister said he is conscious of the high cost of repairing the more remote rural roads and the impact this can have on the contribution which people living and farming along those roads can be asked to make.
A cap of €1,200 on the amount that any individual householder or landowner will be asked to contribute towards the cost of repairs.
“This small but important change to the scheme will, I hope, facilitate the improvement of some of the more remote and sparsely populated roads in rural parts of Laois.
“I cannot overstate how important local connectivity is in order to enable rural Ireland to function well. The Action Plan for Rural Development prioritises the improvement of rural infrastructure and connectivity and continuing to support and develop an LIS scheme is just one of the measures we are taking in that regard,” said the Minister's statement.
The new round of funding will be released in two tranches. Local authorities will be notified of their overall indicative allocation with 50% of the funding being made available once they have certified completion of projects approved under the October 2018 announcement and completion of 50% of the first phase of the 2019 scheme. The balance will be made available at a later stage following completion of this next phase of projects.
Redistribution of some of the funding will be possible, if necessary, depending on local authority performance with regard to the October 2018 announcement and the first phase of the 2019 scheme.
The LIS was reintroduced in September 2017 and a total of €17.4 million was allocated in 2017 and €21 million in 2018 to local authorities for LIS roads.