Noting that the NI Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure [DCAL] has a Water Recreation Development Programme, I emailed the department to find out more:
I would be grateful if you could let me have a copy of your 2013-14 Inland Waterways Water Recreation Development Programme and of any subsequent equivalent programmes, policies or documents. I have been unable to find anything on your website.
I am grateful for the reply, which read:
[...] we wish to advise you that we do not have a formal Water Recreation Development Programme document. How the Water Recreation Development Programme is operated is that we apply each year for capital funding. If successful, we then go out to local authorities seeking to work in partnership with them and other public bodies to co or match fund appropriate and inclusive capital projects. Such projects should provide water related access: for example riverside paths, canoe steps or other similar facilities on public owned land which is free for the public to access and use.
The process we follow is when we receive details of the projects from local authorities we complete an assessment of the project taking into account the following criteria
- Does the project provide water access
- Are there funding or delivery partners
- How the project links to the community
- How will the project be maintained in the future
- Does it enhance or improve disability access
- How does it promote social inclusion.
If DCAL is content that these criteria are met we would then consider funding for the project.
During the 13/14 year we had a capital fund and we were able to support six projects; however due to budget constraints we do not have a capital fund this year 14/15.
The Water Recreation Development Programme appears to be distinct from the Water Recreation Programme covered here and to apply to waterways other than those managed by Waterways Ireland.
This site has what purports to be the department’s business plan for 2013–4. I expected to find it here on the DCAL site but that page seems not to have been updated for some years. If anyone can point me to a link on the DCAL site, I would be grateful for guidance.
I cannot, therefore, be certain that the purported plan is actually DCAL’s plan, but I quote it anyway.
DCAL Inland Waterways
In partnership with local authorities and the voluntary and community sector, DCAL continued to manage canal towpaths in 2012-13. In addition, under the Inland Waterways Water Recreation Development Programme, in conjunction with local councils the Department grant aided 6 projects which included a canoe slalom, interpretative signage and the installation of an outdoor exercise ‘Trim Trail’. These facilities are free for everyone to use and it is a stipulation of the Programme that projects address social exclusion. The Water Recreation Programme is continuing in 2013-14. Funding was also made available to the Lough Neagh Partnership to engage with local rural communities around the lough to explore how they could develop the cultural and leisure tourist potential of the Lough.
In 2013-14, key challenges include work towards registration of assets on the Lagan Canal and investigations into the provision of a safe system of navigation markers for Lough Neagh. DCAL will also be considering the outcomes of a study into the potential for re-opening the former Lagan Navigation.
DCAL’s target for y/e 31 March 2014 was:
By 31 March 2014, to fund at least 5 water recreation projects which provide accessible opportunities for all and target those experiencing poverty and social exclusion.
Its “opening allocations” for 2013–4 were:
- Inland Fisheries and Waterways: current £5.87m, capital £0.17m
- North/South Body – Waterways Ireland: current £5.42m, capital £0.25m.