Budget 2023 has increased overall funding for natural, built and archaeological heritage to €147.5m, an increase of 14% on last year and more than doubled since Minister Noonan took office.
This includes overall funding for nature and biodiversity of over €90m, with increased programme funding and staffing resources for NPWS, plus 15 more Biodiversity Officers, support for the National Biodiversity Data Centre and a doubling of the Local Biodiversity Action Fund.
It also includes overall funding for built heritage of €30m, including the much-loved grant schemes that support community action.
"It’s a privilege to be part of a Government that understands the value of our natural and built heritage, and ensures that it is protected for the benefit of all - even when times are tough."
When I became Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, I committed to doing everything I could to elevate these agendas - in political discourse, in the media, and, through increased funding, in transformative action on the ground.
So I’m proud today to be able to say that, with the support of my colleagues across Government, I’m continuing to deliver on that commitment by more than doubling the Heritage budget since I took office, further increasing funding for the National Parks and Wildlife Service and our built heritage programmes.
It’s a privilege to be part of a Government that understands the value of our natural and built heritage, and ensures that it is protected for the benefit of all - even when times are tough. We know from the experience of recent years that nature, ancient monuments and historic buildings on this island enrich our lives. This investment will enable my Department to expand its work with communities, specialists and stakeholders all over the country to ensure that our heritage is conserved, restored and resilient for the future.
“The increased allocation for nature in Budget 2023 reflects this Government’s continued commitment to addressing the Biodiversity Emergency.”
Today, I’m announcing overall funding for nature and biodiversity of more than €90m, representing:
an 83% increase in NPWS programme funding since 2020 bringing it to €52.6m, including more money for farmers delivering results for nature, investment to enrich our National Parks and Nature Reserves by tackling invasive species and improving the visitor experience, further rollout of the Conservation Measures Programme to improve the status of Ireland’s ‘jewels in the crown’ protected habitats, and a doubling of the Local Biodiversity Action Fund to support community-level action for nature
a significant additional resource boost for NPWS staffing as per the Strategic Action Plan for the Renewal of the NPWS, including resources to fill critical posts identified in that plan and bring Conservation Ranger numbers up from 64 in 2020 to 120 by the end of 2023
15 more Local Authority biodiversity officers through the Heritage Council, on top of the ten we announced this year and the five already in post,
further support for the National Biodiversity Data Centre, again through the Heritage Council, and
EU funding and matching exchequer funding for our hugely impactful LIFE programmes that are working with communities to protect and restore vulnerable habitats and species.
The increased allocation for nature in Budget 2023 reflects this Government’s continued commitment to addressing the Biodiversity Emergency. Corncrakes, curlew, golden plover, lapwing, white tailed eagles, natterjack toads, blanket bogs, raised bogs, species rich grasslands, native woodlands, coastal dune systems and so much more will benefit from this investment, as will the communities that cherish them, and the wider society and economy that depend on them.
I’m also announcing overall built and archaeological heritage funding of more than €30m, an increase of over 260% since 2020. This represents:
additional funding for our much-loved grant schemes - the Historic Structures Fund, the Community Monuments Fund, and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme - that enable the protection, conservation and restoration of historic buildings and archaeological monuments in communities across the country
investment to ensure the ongoing conservation of National Monuments and historic properties in state care, including Scellig Mhichíl
funding to deliver on Heritage Ireland 2030, with a focus on the development of traditional building skills, de-risking thatch insurance, and engagement of local authority conservation officers in 14 cities/counties
funding for landmark restoration projects at Ballintubber Abbey and the iconic Old Library, Trinity College, where works will soon commence to safeguard the beautiful 18th Century building and its precious collections
resources to provide for the conservation of the Moore Street National Monument, ensuring its historical significance is preserved and presented for generations to come
With this Budget, the Government has also demonstrated its commitment to our precious built and archaeological heritage. Funding has increased by over 260% since I became Minister, from €8.6m in 2020 to over €30m in 2023. This includes the grant schemes that support the conservation, restoration and resilience of the historic buildings, ancient ring forts, mediaeval churchyards, castle ruins and countless other structures of historical and archaeological interest across the State, as well as strategic capital funding for projects of national importance.
Lastly, I’m announcing almost €8.5m to implement our new electoral reforms, which will include two flagship initiatives:
Firstly, the establishment of our independent Electoral Commission, to be called An Coimisiún Toghcháin, which will bring about a more cohesive and efficient administration of electoral functions in Ireland. It is now in the process of being stood up and its formal establishment will happen in the coming months. I am delighted to be providing An Coimisiún with significant funding of €5.7m for the coming year.
Secondly, the modernisation of the electoral registration process, and the implementation of a new, simplified and more accessible system. I am pleased to be providing €2.77m for this work, which will also support local authorities to engage with their communities to improve data quality in respect of the register.
This is the third heritage budget of this Government. Not only have we restored funding to key sectors in natural, built and archaeological heritage, we have gone beyond that towards ensuring that there is a renewed vibrancy and excitement in the heritage sector both among professionals and within communities.