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Northern Ireland must invest in infrastructure or pay the penalty

Northern Ireland must invest more in its infrastructure if it is to recover quickly from the recession and avoid EU infraction charges, according to an ICE report published last week.

The report Challenging the Priorities was released last week. It is an independent review of the state of infrastructure in Northern Ireland. It identifies strengths and weaknesses and sets out priorities for infrastructure and development.

Launching the report at the Infrastructure Ireland Conference in Belfast, head of UK Devolved Regions Wendy Blundell said: “We are calling on government to invest in the crucial works and facilities which are vital for social and economic well-being. “Transport networks, water and wastewater facilities, ports, bridges, flood protection works, waste management and energy systems – all these things are often taken for granted, but we ignore them at our peril.”

The report estimates that if Northern Ireland fails to meet relevant EU directives, infraction charges could be in the order of £500,000 per day, until such time as compliance is achieved.

These charges emanating from Northern Ireland’s inability to meet EU directives will be deducted from the Northern Ireland budget. The report explains how funding infrastructure rather than facing these infraction charges would not only save millions of pounds but also provide respite for Northern Ireland’s beleaguered construction industry.

Key recommendations

  • Proper maintenance of road and water networks
  • Dualling of the key transport corridors
  • Building facilities to deal with municipal waste that can not be recycled
  • Meeting targets for renewable energy
  • Stepping up investment in wastewater treatment
  • Developing a long term energy strategy
  • Providing an integrated public transport system
  • Providing an integrated flood risk management strategy
  • Helping people to act more sustainably  

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