€2,900 annual scheme for Suck Valley Way farmers

Government TD Michael Finneran has welcomed the launch of a new walk scheme on the Suck Valley Way. Minister Éamon Ó Cuív launched four National Waymarked Ways and Looped Walking Routes this week. The optional scheme allows landowners on the Suck Valley Way to carry out maintenance work on the walkway. Based on an hourly rate of €14.50 per hour, Roscommon Suck Valley landholder will have the opportunity to earn between €725 and €2,900 per annum. Farmers will agree work plans with the local LEADER company and the local Walking Route committee. Landowners will be able to work an agreed number of hours, on an annual basis, on the section of walkway that passes through their land.  Alternatively the maintenance work will be carried out by the Rural Social Scheme. €14.50 is the agreed hourly labour rate for the Department of Agriculture on-farm investment schemes. Deputy Finneran has lauded the pilot programme, which will be rolled out to a further eight routes this year, with others coming on stream in 2009. The Fianna Fáil TD expressed satisfaction with the optional nature of the scheme, noting that access to the walkway will only be granted at the permission of the landowner. "It is important that landowners know that access will only be granted at the permission of the landowner. But landowners who do participate in the schemes will receive payment for the development, maintenance and enhancement of walkways that pass through their land. Minister Ó Cuív is assuring landowners that there will be no cost burden on them for the maintenance of walkways,’ said Deputy Finneran. Participation in the scheme will be optional and access is granted by the permission of the landholder. The scheme will operate where there is agreement on the entire walk and will not be available for sections of the walk. Upon signing the contract to enter into the scheme, landowners will agree to allow access across their land for a period of five years. It is understood that if people enter, they do so with the permission and the consent of the landowner. The landowner reserves the right to close the route in the short term for any reason if he/she is required to do so. Details of the closure must be agreed with the local LEADER Company in advance of the closure. "These types of walkways will be developed across the country over the coming years and I believe this is a very positive move in the development of walking tourism in Ireland," said Deputy Finneran.