Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has outlined high level budget commitments for the new financial year for spend in Northern Ireland.
The Infrastructure Northern Ireland Department has a capital budget of £722.5m and a resource budget of £429.9m, which includes a £9.2m allocation specifically for Covid.
Outlining how she plans to spend the capital allocations this year Nichola Mallon said: “The budget allocations I have received this year are necessary for the maintenance and investment in our existing public infrastructure valued in excess of £30bn. This infrastructure, comprised of an urban and rural road network; rail network; water infrastructure provides the foundations for effective and efficient public services. It also provides the foundations on which to help stimulate economic growth across the North.”
Ms Mallon said £77.8m has been allocated to ‘flagship projects’ such as the A6 and the A5. These projects are crucial for better connecting our communities and addressing decades of regional imbalance. This will include a £223.1m investment this year in the roads network, which will aim to address the historic underinvestment which has resulted in a decline in the quality of many of our roads, she said. The upgrade of street lighting will also continue.
“It is crucial that we get the basics right for our communities to improve lives in every street in Northern Ireland, ” she added. The budget commitment also includes £215m in Northern Ireland’s water and waste water network and continuing to invest in the public transport system with a total allocation of £170.8m. “These services are fundamental for rural and urban communities alike and as we seek to grow and green our economy, we need to invest now and for the future.
“I am also passionate about creating a cleaner and greener way of living and travelling. The climate crisis is a frightening reality for all of us and we need to act, particularly those of us with power, to lead that change. That is why I want to do all that I can to address this important global issue and therefore I will continue to invest in more sustainable travel, active travel and public transport, including further actions planned for low emission buses, a park and ride programme, as well as greenway developments.”
Turing to her resource budget Minister Mallon said: “While I welcome the additional funding for water and waste water, for other spending areas within my Department, as with many other Departments this effectively represents a real terms reduction when pay and price pressures are taken into consideration, which will create challenges over the course of the year. Road maintenance, public transport and clean water need to be delivered to meet the demands of a modern and economically vibrant society. As we emerge from lockdown, these services, and investing in these services, is fundamental to our recovery and for the health and well-being of our population.
“As ever, I will make the most of my allocations and will bid in-year where necessary to maintain and improve public services so that we enhance the lives of everyone and create the changes necessary for a new, cleaner, greener, more connected future across the north and across our island.”