Funding secured in budget for extension of Grand Canal Greenway

Funding has been secured in the budget for an extension of the Grand Canal Greenway.

As part of Budget 2021, €1.8 billion in funding was announced by the Departments of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport for sustainable transport, cycling, walking and greenway projects, with €50 million allocated to greenways specifically.

Among the latest projects to secure funding is the extension and completion of the Grand Canal Greenway from Daingean, Co. Offaly, to the county boundary at Edenberry.

Welcoming the news, Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, John Carroll said this will be a “fantastic addition to the greenway from Daingean to Lough Boora Discovery Park, which is almost in place”, adding that it will give an economic and well-being boost to the area of east Offaly.

‘In the heart of the area facing a just transition away from peat extraction’

As reported by AgriLand during the summer, Minister Eamon Ryan said that greenway proposals will be funded for a number of areas that have been impacted by the suspension of peat harvesting.

Carroll continued:

“I hope there will be swift progress and that we can follow up in 2022 with the completion of the Grand Canal Greenway to Shannon Harbour, resulting in a national scale 71km greenway right through the county and in the heart of the area facing a just transition away from peat extraction.”

Works on the stretch from Ballycommon to Daingean are commencing this month and the council hopes for works to start towards Edenberry in the spring.

Some of the other cycling, walking and greenway infrastructure projects that are also receiving investment include: the Royal Canal Cycle Scheme; a new walking and cycling bridge over the River Shannon at Athlone; River Dodder cycle route; refurbishment of the Great Southern Greenway in Limerick; and the Donabate Estuary walking and cycling route.

€38 million allocated to energy efficiency and renewable projects

Meanwhile, it was also announced that €38 million has been allocated to energy efficiency and renewable projects.

According to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, this funding is an “almost doubling of the allocation provided in 2020 and will focus on supporting investments that are in keeping with the government’s commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050”.

Following on from the success of community-led projects in this year’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction, €3 million in capital funding has also been allocated for the community RESS to stimulate locally-owned community energy projects.

Over €221 million in funding has been announced for residential and community retrofit schemes. This €100 million increase in allocation is funded through carbon tax revenue.

In total, across government, €286.5 million has been committed to retrofit activity, including social housing.