06/07/2011

Public Transport Spending Must Be Prioritised

A crucial government strategy has failed to address Northern Ireland's over-reliance on road transport, according to a leading body of professionals.

RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Northern Ireland, says that there has been a disproportionate allocation of funding for road building in Northern Ireland over other forms of transport.

In its response to a consultation on the Regional Transport Strategy (RTS), RICS highlights that on a per capita basis, England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland have been investing at least twice as much as Northern Ireland on public transport.

The organisation says that emissions from road transport represent around 28% of total carbon dioxide in Northern Ireland, compared to a figure of 22% for the UK as a whole.
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Northern Ireland's carbon emissions from road transport as a proportion of total carbon emissions have increased by around 40% since 1990, compared to an increase for the UK as a whole of 7%.

RICS Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collins, says it is important that the failures of the existing strategy are recognised and that its limited achievements are not overplayed.

"There was an acceleration in the development of roads infrastructure in recent years because the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland focused on providing funding for strategic road improvements. This undermined the Regional Transport Strategy and is largely to blame for the strategy's failures. It is clear that when investment is made in public transport, it has significant benefits for Northern Ireland. It is therefore essential that public transport investment is prioritised in the years ahead.

"RICS strongly supports efforts by the Northern Ireland Executive to promote sustainable development and the desire to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy. We would strongly urge that the Regional Transport Strategy is used to give impetus to both these priorities."

(CD)

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