The UK’s leading infrastructure expert has said that moving beyond the ‘traditional silo approach’ is a necessity to boost Northern Ireland’s infrastructure planning.
Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the UK National Infrastructure Commission was speaking during an Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD) webinar supported by NIE Networks.
The event also included panel contributions from Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA, Paul Stapleton, Managing Director of NIE Networks and Sam Barr, Partnerships Manager for the Global Infrastructure Hub.
Sir John said: “I was pleased to hear about the recent progress towards a new approach to infrastructure planning in Northern Ireland. Too often infrastructure planning takes place in silos. The approach Northern Ireland is taking tries to move beyond that, and I would encourage you to avoid feeling constrained and to seek to identify synergies across sectors.
“It is also very encouraging to see the focus on taking a truly long term and cross-cutting perspective on infrastructure that was put forward by the advisory panel.
“Proper long-term investment in the right projects is critical, and collaboration is very important if we’re to successfully face the challenges and opportunities over the next 30 years.”
The establishment of an independent Infrastructure Commission for Northern Ireland was announced in August of this year as part of the Executive’s action strategy to stimulate the economy through green growth.
It followed a report by a Ministerial Advisory Panel chaired by IoD Northern Ireland National Director Kirsty McManus,which concluded that an Infrastructure Commission was “the crucial first step in empowering us to turbocharge infrastructure to deliver cleaner, greener, sustainable and inclusive growth for all”.
Kirsty McManus commented: “Today’s webinar provided us with a welcome opportunity to listen to expert views and insights provided by Sir John Armitt and members of the panel.
“It is clear from today’s discussion just how valuable long term, strategic infrastructure planning will be to Northern Ireland. We must now move to the delivery of an Infrastructure Commission that will allow Northern Ireland to capitalise on the opportunities of a greener economy.”
NIE Networks Managing Director Paul Stapleton added: “We were very pleased to support this online panel discussion and to highlight the work of the independent Infrastructure Commission and how it can help Northern Ireland to deliver the vision of a net-zero future.
“Businesses really flourish in an environment of certainty and longer-term infrastructure planning helps to create that degree of certainty.
“It is critical that we create an appropriate planning framework that can build confidence among local and international investors that Northern Ireland is a place worth doing business in and where major infrastructure and not only planned, but delivered.”