Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today announced a new €35m scheme to rejuvenate local authority public piers and harbours throughout coastal communities. The record funded scheme is proposed for funding under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) and was one of the recommendations of the Seafood Sector Taskforce which was established by the Minister following Brexit.
Announcing the scheme, the Minister said “This record funding for our coastal communities is an unprecedented opportunity for us to invest in our publicly owned piers and harbours and will shape the future of our coastal communities. Brexit has and will continue to affect our seafood sector in a unique way compared to other industries. I am delighted to be able to offer this level of investment so that we can deliver safe, accessible, lasting infrastructure and support economic diversification right around our coastline.”
In the wake of the outcome of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom (TCA), Minister McConalogue set up the Seafood Taskforce in March 2021 to look at the impacts specifically on the fishing sector and coastal communities. In its report, published last October, the Taskforce noted that many coastal structures, which are both important landmarks and facilities to the local communities, have declined in structural integrity and effective use over the years. As one of its recommendations, the Seafood Taskforce recommended that the BAR be used to fund rejuvenation of Ireland’s publicly owned coastal and marine infrastructure specifically to address the economic consequences of Brexit arising from the implications to the Irish fishing industry. This investment is intended to help to drive economic diversification and will complement other measures such as Community Led Local Development via the Fisheries Local Action Groups.
The investment scheme focuses on ‘shovel-ready’ projects to give immediate construction stimulus to the coastal communities affected by the TCA and is targeted to attract such projects of up to €1m budget during 2022 and 2023. The Scheme also offers the possibility of funding larger projects where there is particular exposure to Brexit due to proximity to UK waters and loss of fishing opportunities. The projects will be delivered by the local authority which owns and maintains the relevant marine infrastructure.
The Minister encouraged local authorities to make full use of this unique opportunity: “So much of the outcome of Brexit has been bad news for local coastal communities. Now we have this opportunity to support economic growth and mitigate the negative impacts for these communities. Ireland has fought hard for a fair BAR allocation; now we must put it to good use.”
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will administer the Scheme and work closely with coastal local authorities to ensure that eligible projects receive funding.
Notes for Editors
The Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) is a special one-off emergency instrument. The objective of the BAR is to provide support to counter the adverse economic, social, territorial and, where appropriate, environmental consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union in Member States, including their regions and local communities, and sectors, in particular in those that are most adversely affected by the withdrawal, and to mitigate the related negative impact on the economic, social and territorial cohesion. Ireland is the biggest beneficiary of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve and the first Member State to receive its pre-financing. Use of the BAR is governed by EU regulation. Fisheries and coastal communities were an important element of the negotiations on the Member State BAR allocations.
The Report of the Seafood Task Force proposed an €80 million, five-year initiative for the development of publicly owned marine infrastructure, of which the earlier years would focus on small scale “shovel ready” Local Authority projects to be funded under the BAR. The objective is to give immediate construction stimulus to the coastal communities impacted by the TCA and that the resulting infrastructure development would provide a longer-term platform for the development of new and diversified economic activity in these coastal communities. The provision of this enhanced publicly owned marine infrastructure would be a key enabler in allowing integrated application at a local level of the Task Force’s other recommended initiatives for the seafood sector, locally led development and marine tourism initiatives.
The Brexit Adjustment: Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme 2022-2023 is designed to support economic sectors, businesses and local communities and to support job creation and protection by distributing BAR funds to enhance, upgrade, modernise and develop Ireland’s publicly owned coastal and marine infrastructure to facilitate diversification of economic opportunities. The main condition for reimbursing public authorities is that the costs incurred must be directly linked to countering the adverse effects of the UK's withdrawal. Funding from the Reserve must be availed of before the end of 2023. Local authorities will need to meet these and other conditions to avail of the funding.