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Northern Ireland

Statement on new mechanism required to keep Northern Ireland economy driving forward

30 May 2018

Events of recent weeks have further exasperated an already deeply frustrated Northern Ireland business community.

Concern has been growing over the ongoing political impasse at Stormont but the impact of the leadership void, now well over a year since the collapse of the Executive, took on yet greater significance when a legal ruling effectively put a hiatus on any form of decision making.

The outcome of the Judicial Review, which overturned a decision by the Department for Infrastructure Permanent Secretary Peter May to allow the Energy from Waste plant in Mallusk, has potentially long lasting and deeply damaging implications.

The Department is now set to appeal the judgment and, as such, we can expect any other decisions on major strategic projects to be placed on hold until that process has concluded.

As a result, doubt has been cast on more than £1 billion of key infrastructure projects currently in the planning, not to mention countless others in the pipeline for the future.

These include the Belfast Power Station and the redevelopment of Casement Park while the North-South Interconnector – crucial to improving the efficiency of the local electricity market and safeguarding future security of supply – could face further delays.

Given that the System Operator for Northern Ireland estimates the cost of each week of delay in the interconnector project at £320,000, it is clear the current situation is not sustainable.

In the wake of the Judicial Review decision, and following the IoD’s call for a political response, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley travelled to meet with more than 40 of our members at Riddel Hall.

As always, we welcomed the opportunity to engage with those in office and enjoyed a very robust exchange with the Secretary during a lively breakfast briefing.

She left the meeting under no illusions as to the depth of anger and frustration felt by local business leaders who provided a frank and honest assessment of the current situation.

It was, and remains, clear that maintaining the status quo is simply unacceptable and our members now want to see decisive actions taken by politicians, both locally and at Westminster.

During our meeting, the Secretary of State outlined her position, stating that intervention could not take place until an appeal into the Judicial Review had run its course.

Given that it is expected any successful appeal would then itself be subject to an appeal, the resolution could yet be some months away.

For our members, making real decisions that affect thousands of jobs across Northern Ireland on a daily basis, the time for waiting has passed.

That is why we have called for the development of a new mechanism allowing lawful decisions to be made on key projects. The solution is not likely to be an easy one, but it is clear an answer must be found to allow the Northern Ireland economy to continue to grow and prosper.

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028 9068 3224

Northern Ireland

Staff contacts can be found on the main Contacts tab

IoD Northern Ireland
Riddel Hall
185 Stranmillis Road
Belfast
BT9 5EE