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Taoiseach and Minister Doyle open Vartry Lakes Walks in Co. Wicklow

20180609 Wicklow Vartry

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, accompanied by Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, today performed the official opening of the Vartry Lakes Walks which incorporated the new NeighbourWood amenity in Roundwood, Co Wicklow. The enhanced Project opens up 20km of refurbished walks to the public. The project was undertaken by the Roundwood and District Community Council and co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Rural and Community Development, Irish Public Bodies (IPB) together with Wicklow County Council.

Speaking at the opening, the Taoiseach said

“I am delighted to see this brilliant new amenity opening to the public here in the Garden of Ireland. It is particularly appropriate that we launch such a fantastic facility in the same week as we launch the Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign to encourage people to get active this summer. These 20km of walks are the perfect facility for getting outdoors and enjoying the best of what Irish forests have to offer. This amenity is testament to the dedication of the local community and is an example of partnership funding by the State to bring real benefit to rural Ireland “.

Welcoming the completion of the project, Minister of State Doyle commented

“I am delighted to be here in my native county to launch this project co-funded under my Department’s NeighbourWood scheme. NeighbourWoods deliver a wide range of benefits to local communities and wider society by providing opportunities for exercise, recreation and relaxation, creating important wildlife habitats, mitigating noise pollution, promoting air quality and improving the visual landscape. As Minister with responsibility for forestry, I am delighted to see the result of the project which combines the best of our forestry policy and our community funding. This project highlights the opportunities available to local communities to avail of financial support under my Department’s NeighbourWood Scheme to develop attractive close-to-home woodland amenities for public use and enjoyment.”

The NeighbourWood Scheme is a measure in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Forestry Programme 2014-2020 which is specifically focused on delivering the social benefits of forestry to local communities by providing funding to Local Authorities and local community groups to create and develop ‘close to home’ amenity woodlands for public enjoyment and recreation.
The Minister concluded

“I congratulate the Roundwood and District Community Council on their vision and all of the other bodies which supported the overall project. This project is a showcase for recreation amenities and we will be using its progress to highlight the potential for other developments around Ireland. I believe it will inspire other Community groups to consider similar projects and I encourage them to look at what the NeighbourWood scheme can offer them”.