Question Time – Regional Development – Tuesday 17 November 2015

The Regional Development Minister, Miss Michelle McIlveen was asked for an update on the Belfast rapid transit system, the Minister stated “I am fully committed to the delivery of Belfast rapid transit, including not only the current phase, which connects east Belfast, west Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre, but future extensions to the north and south of the city. I regard Belfast rapid transit as a transformational public transport project for the city. It represents a great opportunity for Belfast going forward and is a major decision for my Department in relation to the commitment of funding in support of an Executive priority. I have a keen personal interest in Belfast rapid transit and recently visited some of the infrastructure that my Department is developing for the system, including the new 520-space park-and-ride facility at Dundonald and the ongoing works on the routes. The works have been well publicised, and details of the impacts on local traffic are available on my Department’s Trafficwatch Northern Ireland website”.

The Minister was also asked whether she has any plans to use the EuroVelo to promote her Department’s bicycle strategy by Mr McKay MLA. The Minister confirmed “Northern Ireland Changing Gear: A Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland’ is based around a three-pillar approach. Those are building a comprehensive network for the bicycle; supporting people who choose to travel by bicycle; and promoting the bicycle as a mode of transport for everyday journeys. That balanced approach underlines the importance of high-quality bicycle infrastructure, good support measures for those who want to use a bicycle and effective programmes for behavioural change. I am particularly keen to explore opportunities to expand the cycling infrastructure, in building better infrastructure for the bicycle so that people can have the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle for everyday journeys. Current work has focused on the urban bicycle infrastructure and the potential to develop greenways. Both are key elements of the bicycle strategy and fit in with the main purpose of the EuroVelo, which is to provide routes that people can use for daily journeys and for recreation. My Department has had discussions with Sustrans about the route for EuroVelo 1 in Northern Ireland. Those discussions included consideration of how the EuroVelo might form part of the comprehensive network referred to in the bicycle strategy”.

The regional Development Minister also answered questions on the A8 Completion Date, Winter Services 2015-16, the Newry Rail Station and Road Safety in Fermanagh.