Transport Strategy and Regional Transport Plans

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Infrastructure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 16 April 2024.

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Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin 2:15, 16 April 2024

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will answer questions 5 and 9 together.

Decarbonising transport represents the greatest challenge facing our transport network in recent times and will require public authorities and society to rethink our approach to travel. That provides an opportunity to reshape transport to better connect our towns and cities across the island and create healthier and more prosperous communities. To that end, I am working with my officials to bring forward a new transport strategy that I expect to consult on later this year. The strategy will provide an overarching framework to inform the Department's planning and delivery of transport infrastructure and services through to 2035.

The strategy will provide a vision for transport that will allow people to choose the most sustainable transport option for their journey, whatever its purpose. Central to achieving that vision will be understanding the needs and opportunities in individual communities. For example, creating more sustainable transport options in Newtownards or Belfast will not be the same as it is in Enniskillen or Ballymoney. That is why my Department is working with councils and stakeholders in communities to produce a new suite of local transport plans that are centred on local transport solutions. That will include a focus on improving active travel infrastructure, reflecting our commitment to that area in the Climate Change Act.

At the regional level, a new transport plan for the strategic transport network will seek to ensure that people are able to access employment, healthcare and other services and create balanced economic growth across the North. The regional plan will look to improve safety and maximise the potential of our strategic network, particularly for public transport.