A total of €2 million in funding has been announced by the Department of Rural and Community Development to develop outdoor recreation at a county level.

Funding of €780,000 will support the development of ‘County Outdoor Recreation Plans’ and new national guidelines have been issued to assist in their preparation.

The plans will help guide and facilitate the development of outdoor recreation and will support future applications for funding for outdoor amenities.

Funding of €1.28 million over three years has also been approved for a pilot programme in partnership with Sport Ireland to introduce County Outdoor Recreation Officers in six Local Sport Partnerships – Clare, Longford, Sligo, Waterford, Mayo, and Meath.

These officers will provide expertise and guidance to the outdoor recreation sector in the county and will coordinate the development and the delivery of the County Outdoor Recreation Plan in their county

CEO of Sport Ireland, Dr Úna May, welcomed the announcement and said: “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.”

The funding is part of a commitment in Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors, the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2023-2027, which aims to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland.

Among the key actions in the strategy is the development of County Outdoor Recreation Plans and the establishment of a County Outdoor Recreation Committee to achieve a more planned and coordinated approach for the development of outdoor recreation in each county.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys commented: “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.

“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.”

Every county will now receive funding of up to €30,000 to develop a short, focused 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.

More information on County Outdoor Recreation Plans can be found here