Infrastructural boost

Secretary of State Peter Hain has announced an increase in road infrastructure investment from £1bn to £1.4bn from now to 2015. The traditional complaint of the West being ignored is (partially?) addressed with an almost even split in the new investment. Investment in infrastructure is generally considered a key plank in economic development.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Errrr…you’re happy that the Brits are so generously dispensing £1.4bn (€2bn) on infrastructure over the next 9 years?

    The Republic plans on spending €5-6bn every year in the same period.

    The North, which when I was small had a significant infrastructural advantage over the south, fell behind a few years ago…and if this is all the British are willing to spend, by 2015 the north’s infrastructure will be way, way, way behind that of the Republic.

  • Garibaldy

    More roads are not a sustainable long-term soluion for environmental reasons, on top of the time spent in traffic as more cars get on the road. The money would be better spent on providing decent public transport.

  • Daisy

    What a shame they can’t find the funds to put into public transport, particularly in rural areas. While some roads need upgrading, surely it’s more sensible to provide good, integrated public transport? What is this government’s obsession with the car all about?

  • Pete Baker

    Well, on closer look this statement by NIO Minister David Cairns doesn’t seem to be all it’s cracked up to be.

    From Notes to editors in the DRD statement

    5. The Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland (ISNI) was developed by the Strategic Investment Board and announced by the Secretary of State in December 2005. ISNI envisages the funding that is likely to be available over the period to 2015, but actual funding has to be secured in succeeding budget rounds.

    6. The additional £400m was earmarked for Strategic Road Improvements which are defined as major capital improvements on Northern Ireland’s motorway and trunk road network.

    7. The delivery of any scheme in the programme is subject to the availability of funds in succeeding budget rounds, a satisfactory economic appraisal and clearing the statutory procedures of environmental statement, planning approval (known as the direction order) and land acquisition.

    8. All scheme estimates are at 2005 prices, to match the price base used by ISNI.

    And for some further background on that the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland up to 2015 was noted here

    Where there are more figures for the accountants to pore over..

  • dantheman

    fuck the begrudgers, this is very welcome news, derry-strabane, all the way to coleraine, enniskillen bypass. All welcome. Enniskillen Omagh is to do with the moving of the hospital. Derry strabane is probably due to pressure from the republic. Yes the south is far exceeding this (its around €3.4 billion per year, which is still about 20 times what the north will do), but better than nothing.

    FD The traditional complaint about the west being ignored, is because it has been ignored. Now all major routes out of Derry with a capital D will at least be more free flowing, and schemes such as the newry dundalk road and the projected enniskillen bypass shows that the government may be beginning to address the island wide spatial strategy and not the closed 6 county mindset so often shown by the bowler hatted bigots up on the hill in the bygone days of yore.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    PB: thanks for that, that’s more numbers to get stuck into 🙂

    Looks like the capital budget for the north is pencilled in as a fairly steady £1.3bn (around €1.8bn) or so per annum for the next 10 years. So road building is just 10% of the Capital budget, Education and Health take up around £400m, and there’s £400m a year for “regional development”, whatever that means. Education, Health and Regional Development together are about £800m each year of the £1.3bn.

    Is that really anywhere near enough? You’d need to nearly double that to be matching the Republic on capital spending, proportionately.

  • fair_deal

    Ciaran

    “to be matching the Republic on capital spending”

    Read the Annual Competiveness Review, it admits the RoI is still operating from an internationally low base in terms of transport infrastructure.

  • slug

    “Other schemes are also proposed elsewhere to deal with bottlenecks on highly trafficked routes. These include a £50 million scheme to provide a flyover junction carrying Westlink over York Street as well as dualling on the A26 from Coleraine to Ballymoney”

    The £50 million flyover joining the M2 to the Westlink is much needed and will mean a much beter flow into the city at peak times. It was the one criticism I had of the present scheme that this was not included.

    The second part of this is also quite interesting. When you think that dualling is already planned soon for that part of the A26 northwards to the turn-off for Ballycastle, then if this bit is also done from Ballymoney to Coleraine, there will only be a short section left that is single carrageway all the way up to Coleraine.

    Both of these will make a difference to people in County Antrim, whether driving into Belfast for work or up to the North Coast for pleasure!

  • Daisy

    “dualling is already planned soon for that part of the A26 northwards to the turn-off for Ballycastle”

    There was some work done on that road recently which involved huge inconvenience for drivers but when it was opened it faced much criticism because it wasn’t dualled. Are they now going to dual it? Why didn’t they do that in the first place?

    Or are the figures including works already carried out, in which case it’s not the basket of goodies it would seem?

  • slug

    Daisy

    The recent works you mentioned were mainly to improve safety.

    The stretch from the end of the dualled section to the Ballycastle turn off is in existing plans to be dualled and was not announced today.

    The stretch from Ballycastle to Coleraine was announced today.

  • slug

    I meant the stretch from Ballymoney to Coleraine was announced today.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Read the Annual Competiveness Review, it admits the RoI is still operating from an internationally low base in terms of transport infrastructure.

    Internationally low when compared to, say, Germany, or other mature developed European economies, yes. Of course it is. That’s why we’re spending so much to bridge the gap and get the infrastructure up to European standards over the next 10-15 years. The Transport21 spending plan (€34bn in next 10 years, involving roads, rail, LUAS, DART and Metro) should largely eliminate the deficit.

    The north’s infrastructure has already fallen behind the Republic and hence is even further away from European standards, and this level of capital spending just isn’t anywhere near enough for the north to catch up. It’ll continue to fall further behind on these numbers.

  • Yokel

    Ciaran

    Do you have a point?

  • dantheman

    Actually I have looked at the plans, and they are not as good WOTB as I had thought. It takes about twice as long to get something built in the north these days, and the road from derry to strabane is just 2+1 and not DC. Looks like the cheap option has been taken again, but I suppose that is the problem when there is no local decisiion making.

    At least the M1/A1/N1/M1/E01/T1 will be finally completed with no at grade junctions or central reservation crossings between the M2 at York Street and Dublin city. That in itself should be welcomed.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Do you have a point?

    I would have thought the point was obvious.

    Britain doesn’t care enough to spend the money required or even come up with a comprehensive transport plan involving all aspects of road, rail, public transport etc. There is no pressure on them to do anything other than maintain what exists and put in some incremental marginal improvements, over very long timescales.

    And if the local politicians were in charge, they have no fiscal powers to raise the cash necessary, no powers to boost the private sector to generate the wealth that can then be spent on infrastructure.

    The Union is bad for you.

    Once upon a time there may have been an argument that Britain could better afford to subsidise the north, even though I’d consider such an argument to be fundamentally insane – what self-respecting adult wants to be subsidised forever?

    Britain is no longer willing to maintain the subsidy at existing levels, is no longer willing to spend huge amounts, has no intention of spending the cash to make real investments in infrastructure…..but whether under Direct Rule or under New Stormont there is little that can be done to help the north generate the necessary resources to actually reach European transport standards (let alone European standards in anything else)

    Sadly, the north will just continue its long relative decline, falling further and further behind the rest of the island, and there is no plausible mechanism I can see to reverse that trend while remaining in the Union with Britain.

    Fast-forward 10-15 years. The Republic has completed the massive 25 year investment program. Huge resources then become available to the government of the day because they don’t need to be spent on building all the stuff we now need any more. The Republic’s GNP growth rate will be higher than the north’s throughout the period by all forecasts. The north, in terms of relative population, in terms of relative size of economy, in terms of relative everything, will be a tiny minnow next to a resource-rich giant.

    Game Over. The Republic, with over 5 million people, an advanced mature economy, and a stable liberal democracy, will be able to simply absorb the north with barely a hiccup. Unionists will, by then, make up at most 15% of the islands population, and may well even be outnumbered by the New Irish. Unionism simply will not have the weight, of numbers or of cold hard cash, to stop nationalism simply running the island as a unit by default.

    Better to take some control of your inevitable destiny and help shape that Ireland of the future now, rather than sullenly sitting in the corner railing against the tide, to no constructive purpose.

  • Yokel

    Right so you are taking an announcement about improving a few roads and suggesting this lends weight to the case for a United Ireland then?

  • dantheman

    I think if there was a future repartition then the bowler hatted bigots would already have all the motorways they would need.

  • IJP

    Dan

    My thoughts on transport are entirely my own…

    You raise an interesting political point there – because in fact, would the Derry-Strabane road be any better with local decision makers?

    Actually, I suspect local decision makers would have been to scared to even come up with the current £1.4 bn package.

    By ‘too scared’, I mean even the colonial rulers are afraid to name anything a ‘motorway’ (despite the advantage both of safety and, from a Nationalist point of view, the fact that Orangemen do not have a right to walk on it…)

    Of course, everyone is too scared to do the really sensible thing, namely toll the new roads as they’ve done in much of the Republic. User pays and you get all your money back – by my reckoning, you’d have precisely £1.4 bn left over for a Belfast tram system and an improved rail line to the North West and the East Coast.

    But that would require strategic thinking, of course…

  • slug

    So, IJP, where does Alliance stand on Water Charging?

  • dantheman

    IJP, good points.

    Two things which are greatly emphasised in the south are lack of right hand turns and even grade separation on single carriageways eg Carrickmacross and (under construction) Castleblaney bypasses. Safety is the issue htere.

    Although credit where credit is due in relation to the Dublin Road, at least it will be freeflow in the outside lane from Belfast to Dublin, as reasonably good as it gets. Upgrade to motorway at this stage would be a waste of money, which could be spent on other projects.

    Re: the toll. I would be in favour (of government funding where the money returns to roads projects. Look at how the toll on the Boyne Bridge funded the entire Dundalk bypass, a fantastic and direly needed road. Where a toll on the M2 past J4 (or M1 past J7) to fund its continuation to Derry (Ennsikillen) it would in deed be money well spent.

    It should be remembered that the Derry strabane roads also serves Inishowen to the rest of ireland. With a bit more funding (from the NRA) this could have been built to DC standard. An example of non controversial crossborder thinking perhaps? Then again the road aint built yet…

  • moyle rover

    slug,
    you mention already published plans to dual the A26 from glarryford to the ballycastle junction, do you have any details or a link to this as I must have missed it. The A26 is a deadly road with very high casualty figures I would be very intrested in details

  • dantheman
  • moyle rover

    thanks dan