€276,433 has been allocated for repairs and improvement works on non-public roads in rural communities in Westmeath, as part of the Government’s ‘Our Rural Future’ project, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Minister of State Peter Burke has welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, of a total allocation of €10.5 million for projects across the country. This represents a 5% increase compared to 2020, with every county, including Westmeath, receiving an increase.

Over €68 million has now been invested under the Local Improvement Scheme since it was re-introduced in 2017.

Peter Burke said: “This is great news for local communities in Westmeath, as the funding announced under the Local Improvement Scheme will improve access to rural homes and farms, as well as outdoor amenities such as lakes, rivers, mountains and beaches.

“Coming from a farming background, I know how important this scheme is for farmers in particular who would otherwise have to foot the very expensive costs of tarring and maintaining rural lanes and roads.  While these roads are owned privately, it is still vital for residents living at the end of such roads and who work on laneways to have access at all times, whether for work, visiting family or critical access such as ambulances.

“Since the scheme was re-introduced in 2017 by my colleague Michael Ring, almost 2,400 roads have been funded for repair works across the country. This has made a real difference to the lives of over 10,000 landowners and residents in rural Ireland.  I am hopeful that the scheme can be maintained and increased in coming years so that it can assist more rural residents as I know demand is always high” concluded Peter Burke.

Announcing the €10.5 million in funding, Minister Humphreys said: “As part of ‘Our Rural Future’, the Government has committed to increasing the level of investment in the repair of non-public roads through the Local Improvement Scheme.

“I know there is a significant demand for funding under the Local Improvement Scheme right across the country. That is why I am today announcing increased funding for every county under the scheme; however, 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,” concluded Minister Humphreys.