A £10 million funding pot will be made available to improve rural roads across the region, Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced.
In a statement to the Assembly, Minister Mallon said her department needed much more in terms of resources to support the public transport network and NI Water. But she announced a programme of investment including a £20 million fund for ‘blue and green’ infrastructure (rivers, parks, etc.) as well as funding for road safety measures, street lights and potholes.
Her announcements also included the creation of a ‘transformation pot’ with support for greenways and £30 million for low emission buses; crucial investment in flagship projects and strategic roads across the north; the rural roads funding pot and news that 100 schools to benefit from 20mph speed limits scheme.
Minister Mallon said: “It is no secret that the Department for Infrastructure is facing real pressures in its resource budget. While I’ve been able to allocate my budget to support services, serious gaps remain for our public transport network and NI Water. The financial climate remains difficult, significantly compounded by the Covid-19 crisis, but I am committed to seizing the opportunities to enable a greener, cleaner, recovery towards a new and better normal for all of us.
“The decisions I have taken are to ensure the Department for Infrastructure plays its part in responding to this crisis and enabling our safe and speedy recovery from it to a new way of living and working. In announcing these key projects, I want to be transparent and honest with the public about the challenges, but also about the opportunities.
“While I continue to support the fightback against Covid-19 in cooperation with colleagues, my department has also looked at new ways to invest that can deliver the transformation our communities need. I am also maintaining the level of investment in structural maintenance, to ensure we get the basics done. With a £10 million pot for rural roads, I want to make sure that citizens, no matter where they live, are not left behind. I have also approved the continuation of works on all flagship projects as well as a number of other strategic road improvement schemes, this investment is key not only to employment across Northern Ireland but also to kick start our economic recovery.
“There are very real challenges facing all departments, none greater than the battle of Covid-19, which is why my priority will always be supporting my colleagues and communities to protect public health and ultimately save lives. However, as we look to the future, we need to plan. We need to have new ideas and we need to really engage our communities in building that better future. While my budget is a mixed bag, of pressures and progress, I firmly believe it is a stepping stone to recovery.”