Business pushes for All Island growth
The North South Infrastructure Group was set up under the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement to maintain a strategic overview of planned all island economic and infrastructural investment. The Ibec-CBI Northern Ireland Joint Business Council (JBC) has met the group annually, most recently in Belfast last month.
Ibec’s ambition is for a fully connected all-island market that supports greater prosperity and employment. Cross-border economic activity drives growth in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. High quality infrastructure connecting both sides of the border is needed to underpin effective cross-border growth. This group can help ensure the necessary connectivity is ambitious, funded and prioritised in both jurisdictions.
Several infrastructure priorities were discussed, including:
- The N2/A5 upgrade programme, which will be crucial to unlock the North West of the island.
- The ongoing programme to upgrade the A6.
- There was a strong expression of commitment to the North South Interconnector. This is one of the most critical pieces of infrastructure needed for the island of Ireland, in order to safeguard the security of electricity supply and the ongoing operation of the all-island electricity market.
- Increasing the frequency of the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise train will be a near-term priority, along with reducing total journey time to under 90 minutes.
- Joint spatial planning will need to be a focus of infrastructure investment over the next two decades. Ibec and the JBC have made submissions to the draft to the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies that focus on enhancing all-island infrastructure priorities.
Ibec continues to campaign for increased capital investment and cross-border cooperation, having previously published reports on all-island activity and the need for greater all-island investment. Future meetings with the group will consider Brexit-related challenges such as finance delivery.