The current programme to improve transportation links in Northern Ireland has evolved over the last decade or so. The key document and strategies guiding this programme are:
- The White Paper "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone
- Moving Forward: The Northern Ireland Transport Policy Statement
- Regional Transport Strategy for Northern Ireland 2002-2012
- Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan 2015
- Investment Delivery Plan for Roads
- Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2011-2021
Regional Development Strategy (RDS)
The RDS 2025 guides the development of Northern Ireland up to 2025 and beyond. The importance of the RDS is underpinned by Article 5 of the Strategic Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 and was recognised in the Northern Ireland Executive’s Programme for Government.
In recognition of the changing challenges facing the region, the NI Executive agreed that the RDS 2025, published in 2002 and reviewed in 2008, needed to be revised. Following public consultation, the RDS 2035 was published in 2012. Whilst many of the objectives of the previous strategy are still valid, this document now replaces it.
The Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS)
This supports the RDS 2025 and makes a significant contribution towards achieving the longer-term transportation vision contained within the RDS. The strategic direction and underlying principles of the RTS were agreed by the NI Assembly in 2002.
A revised strategy document, Ensuring a Sustainable Transport Future - A New Approach to Regional Transportation, was published in 2012. This compliments the RDS 2035 and aims to achieve its vision for transportation. One of its main Strategic Objectives is to “improve connectivity within the region” by completing the work identified in the current RSTN TP and Strategic Road Improvement Programme.
Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan 2015 (RSTN TP)
This plan, published in 2005, presents a range of multi-modal transport initiatives to manage, maintain and develop Northern Ireland’s Strategic Transport Network. It proposes Strategic Road Improvements (SRIs) to remove bottlenecks on the key road network where lack of capacity is causing serious congestion, and to improve the environment by providing bypasses of towns, relieving the effects of heavy through traffic.
Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland (ISNI)
Launched in December 2005, ISNI set a new, comprehensive approach to be used by government to make informed decisions as to the investment priorities for Northern Ireland over the ten year period 2005-2015. The ISNI confirmed that implementation of the existing RTS was already bringing considerable investment in the roads network across the region. To achieve the aspirations of the Economic Vision for Northern Ireland required an even more forward looking approach to ensure the key infrastructure was in place so that Northern Ireland is prepared for inward investment. ISNI confirmed plans to commence additional investment that would result in higher standard roads providing improved access for commercial traffic, buses and private cars on the Key Transport Corridors connecting Northern Ireland’s major cities, including key cross border routes. This would be the start of what could become a £1bn investment on the strategic network which would allow additional major road improvement schemes over and above those in the RSTN TP.
A revised ISNI for the ten year period 2008-2018 was published in 2008, and envisaged an investment of £3.1bn in roads infrastructure. Approximately £2.5bn was targeted at the Strategic Road Network and included major schemes on the key strategic routes. A daughter document, the Investment Delivery Plan (IDP) for Roads, provides additional details of future infrastructure investments, organisational capacity and delivery programmes for the strategy envisaged in ISNI 2008-2018.
ISNI 2011-2021, published in 2012, updates the Investment Strategy in line with the new budget period. It highlights the progress made to date and sets out the next phase of investment in key projects and programmes. Whilst the resolve to invest remains resolute, the scale and focus on investment is updated to reflect the current economic climate, with a shift in focus to protecting jobs, fostering economic recovery and protecting public services. The strategy is focussed on prioritising infrastructure programmes that will deliver the best return in the period ahead.