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Two Laois schools added to Safe Routes to School programme

Two Laois primary schools have been included in Round 2 of the Safe Routes to School programme announced by Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, this morning.

Camross NS and St Paul’s NS in Mountmellick are among the 108 schools nationwide that have been included in the programme that assists in creating safer walking and cycling routes to local primary schools around the country.

The  programme also aims to alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing improvements to walking and cycling facilities.

Already Maryborough NS, Scoil Mhuire in Abbeyleix and Scoil Phadraig Naofa in Mountmellick have benefitted from the scheme.

“In recent months I have had the privilege of visiting schools across the country and have seen first-hand the positive impact that Safe Routes to School projects are having on our children’s daily lives,” said Minister Naughton at the launch this morning.

“During these visits the message was loud and clear that there is a huge appetite for the continued rollout of the Safe Routes to School Programme in our villages, towns, and cities across the country.

“Now, having secured the necessary funding as part of Budget 2023, it is great to see the programme continue to go from strength to strength.

“My ambition is that every child in Ireland will have the option to make their daily commute to the classroom by foot, bicycle or scooter in a way that they are safe and protected; one that I am confident is shared amongst children, their parents, teachers and the wider school community.”

CEO of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham said: “The National Transport Authority is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of Safe Routes to School projects right across the country.

“Our Active Travel team is already working closely with local authorities on the rollout of the Round 1 schemes, and it has been encouraging to see more young people cycling, walking/scooting to school as a result.

“In collaboration with An Taisce Green-Schools and the local authorities, we will now begin working on delivering the second tranche of projects.

“By working with school communities at a local level to make journeys safer than ever before, we can continue encouraging young people to use more sustainable modes of transport.”

The programme is funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA) and is supported by the Department of Education.

An Taisce’s Green-Schools is co-ordinating the programme, while funding will be made available to local authorities which will play a key part in delivering the infrastructure.

€20m has been allocated for projects included in Round 2 with the funds coming from each local authority’s annual allocation for Active Travel works.

The selected schools were assessed against a range of criteria including demonstrable commitment to promoting walking and cycling to and from school.

A designated Infrastructure Officer from Green-Schools will liaise with the schools and local authority as works are planned and carried out.

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