Roads, digital connectivity and energy are the top infrastructure priorities for Northern Ireland businesses, employers’ group the CBI has claimed.
Highlighting the results of its Infrastructure Survey produced in conjunction with global architecture, engineering and construction company AECOM, the group says delivering on essential services is at the top of most firms’ lists.
On energy almost 90% said the delivery of a second north/south energy interconnector to secure energy resilience is a major priority for the local economy
More than half said more domestic flight connections to the rest of the UK were critical for Northern Ireland and the same number said cited the delivery of the A6 dual carriageway upgrade schemes from Belfast to Londonderry as a critical infrastructure project.
The survey also revealed that Northern Ireland businesses were the least confident out of all UK regions around road improvement during the course of this parliament.
“Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity and living standards,” said CBI NI director Angela McGowan.
“Day in, day out, our businesses rely on our roads, railways and runways to move their goods, services and people up and down the country.
However, it is a concern that over half of local businesses are dissatisfied with their region’s infrastructure, or that confidence in the future is running low, especially when it comes to delivery, the key piece of the infrastructure puzzle.”
“So, our message is a simple one: at the end of the day, delivery is what matters.
“Businesses need clear, deliverable timetables for action on major projects in order for them to act as magnets for investment, growth and jobs.
“If we don’t get spades in the ground on existing plans, it’s clear we could put a major dent in the competitiveness of local business.
“This is something we cannot afford to do, especially during this period of uncertainty as the UK leaves the EU.”
“This report makes clear that we need a new delivery partnership between business and the Executive.
After decades of under investment in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, this vision of greater public and private collaboration is one that the business community strongly welcomes.
“Local firms are ready and willing to work with the Executive to develop the skills and capacity to deliver our joint aims.”