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Arc21: Financial Transactions Capital

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance and Personnel – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP 2:45 pm, 13th October 2015

7. Mr Allen asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on the financial transactions capital funding allocated to the Department of the Environment to fund the Arc21 project in the financial year 2015-16. (AQO 8873/11-16)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

The Department of the Environment was allocated £50 million of financial transactions capital (FTC) for the ARC21 waste facility project by the Executive in their Budget for 2015-16. The Member will be aware of the announcement by the Environment Minister on 24 September 2015 to refuse planning permission for the ARC21 waste facility at Hightown Road. DOE has now formally confirmed that the £50 million of financial transactions capital is now not required in 2015-16, and it is being surrendered for the Executive to reallocate.

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

I thank the Minister for her response. My party repeatedly argued that the money should not have been allocated in the first place. Does the Minister now agree that the allocation of £50 million was premature, not least given the fact that permission was always uncertain?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

The money was allocated after a request from the Department of the Environment. It now indicates that it does not wish to use that financial transactions capital. I accept and wholeheartedly agree that announcing a reduced requirement of this scale so late in the financial year is disappointing. However, there is no reason why it should be lost to Northern Ireland, and the Executive will consider reallocating the £50 million FTC, along with any other financial issues facing the Northern Ireland Executive and the block grant, through the in-year monitoring process, which I hope will happen after the talks are finished.

Photo of Dominic Bradley Dominic Bradley Social Democratic and Labour Party

Is it not the case that the amount of financial transaction capital that is available to Northern Ireland was oversubscribed? Does the surrender of this £50 million now enable those who did not benefit from it previously to benefit from it now?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

That is not how it works. If it was oversubscribed last year, it does not just follow through into this year. We have to make yearly allocations. We will try to reallocate this money. As the Member is probably aware, we are setting up the Northern Ireland investment fund, and we may reallocate it to that fund. We can move forward on that basis. It is disappointing that it is so late in the year, but we will try to do our best to make sure that it is reallocated.