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Belfast International Airport: Signage

Regional Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 am on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 3:00 am, 13th October 2008

4. asked the Minister for Regional Development if he will consider the erection of signage for Belfast International Airport at the A1 at Sprucefield, directing drivers along the M1 and A26 Moira to Nutts Corner road.            (AQO 536/09)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

Roads Service carried out a preliminary assessment of the existing directional signage from the A1 at Sprucefield to Belfast International Airport in December 2007. That assessment concluded that new signage via the M1 motorway and the A26 would be appropriate. Roads Service has identified the signs along the A1 and A101 routes that need to be replaced. It is expected that the design, procurement and erection of those replacement signs will be completed by the end of March 2009.

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 3:15 am, 13th October 2008

I welcome the Minister’s response. Does he agree that it is important that those gaps are filled as quickly as possible if Belfast International Airport, and our other airports, are to achieve their obvious objective of being regional airports for Northern Ireland as well as serving the border counties of the Republic?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

I agree with the Member. The potential for opening up new markets for Belfast International Airport was recognised particularly in relation to the work that was done along the new stretch of the A1 between Belfast and Dublin. That is when the impetus and argument around the need for directional signs at Sprucefield, to the airport, became evident.

As I said in my initial answer, Roads Service has responded. We are considering ways of amending and improving the signage. I have had discussions with the management of Belfast International Airport, and since the commencement of Aer Lingus flights there, passenger numbers have increased and business is continuing to grow. That is good news for the area.

Photo of David McNarry David McNarry UUP

In light of the aforementioned tourism and commercial significance of our airports and harbours — particularly those at Ballywalter, Portavogie and Portaferry, to name but a few, in one beautiful constituency — does the Minister take a uniform approach to the provision of signage in those locations?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

The need for signage at Sprucefield was raised because people thought that, given the road improvements and the increase in traffic coming from the southern side towards Belfast International Airport [Interruption.]

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Please allow the Minister to answer.

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

Given the increase in traffic coming from the southern side towards Belfast International Airport, some people thought that additional signage was needed. If the Member has a request for signage at any of the places that he mentioned, he can contact me and I will be happy to do what I can.

Photo of Trevor Lunn Trevor Lunn Alliance

In his answer to Mr Hamilton’s initial question, the Minister referred to the A26. Does he agree that if that important road, which is the main route from the south to the north coast and the airport, gains extra traffic, the A26 dual carriageway between Moira and Nutts Corner should be upgraded as soon as possible.

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

It would be nice to have the money to do all those things. The recognition of the need for improved signage at Sprucefield arose because of the significant increase in traffic and the potential for more business for Belfast International Airport. The need for directions to Belfast International Airport was an issue, particularly for people coming from the southern side. That is why the signage was improved.

If the traffic increases to such an extent that it merits another look at the road and its upgrading, the Department will look at that in due course.