Opinion Former Article

Northern Ireland transport receives £400M

Support for major new road investment in Northern Ireland is promised by the Conservative’s new ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The UK Government will allocate £200M a year for the next two years to the Northern Ireland Executive for infrastructure development, such as the York Street Interchange in Belfast (pictured).

The agreement with the DUP comes after the Government failed to win an overall majority at the recent General Election. 

In all, the financial agreement with Northern Ireland is worth £1Bn over two years. Speaking on Monday the DUP leader Arlene Foster said its aim in the negotiations was to deliver “for all the people of Northern Ireland” on measures that include investing in new infrastructure.

Further priorities identified by the DUP which may be supported going forwards include dualling sections of the A5 and A6 and bypasses of Ballynahinch, Enniskillen and Newry.

Other transport priorities for the DUP are the taking forward of improvements to public transport that include a rapid transit scheme and transport hub for Belfast, park and ride at locations including Portadown and an integrated bus and rail ticketing scheme.

It is also keen to create a single department for delivering infrastructure projects and to establish a new Northern Ireland investment fund to help finance projects such as urban regeneration.

Highways Term Maintenance Association executive director and former CIHT President Geoff Allister said: “Transport infrastructure in Northern Ireland has suffered from many years of underfunding, therefore any additional investment targeted at areas of greatest need and that improve road safety and journey times are to be welcomed.”

He added: “This money will provide a significant and welcome boost to the hard pressed local highways industry.”

Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry chief executive Ann McGregor said: “The allocation of extra funds to help deliver key infrastructure projects will have positive knock on effects. Road schemes such as the York Street Interchange will do much to ease congestion on heavily trafficked roads in the region, helping businesses to move products and goods more efficiently and in the process reduce costs.”

Confederation of British Industry Northern Ireland vice chair Trevor Lockhart said: “There is much in this agreement that business will welcome. In particular, the delivery of the York Street Interchange has long been a key infrastructure priority for local firms from across Northern Ireland.”

But he added that the number one priority for firms in Northern Ireland remains getting the Executive back up and running before the end of June. “Against the backdrop of Brexit, and its specific impact on this region, we can’t afford any more delays,” he said.

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