Mid Ulster’s infrastructure priorities have been set out by Mid Ulster District Council in a meeting with Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA yesterday (8 December 2021).
In the third and final visit to each of the council areas which make up the Mid South West (MSW) Region, Minister Mallon met the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean, who is also the current Chair of the MSW Region Governance Steering Group, alongside other elected representatives.
In a wide-ranging discussion, which focused on the specific strategic infrastructure priorities for Mid Ulster as part of the wider Mid South West Region, the Minister heard about the infrastructure required to support the delivery of growth projects as well as the time-critical need to deliver on bypasses for both Cookstown and Dungannon.
This meeting coincided with the second day of the A29 Cookstown Bypass public information event which was also held at the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre.
Members of the MSW grouping also emphasised the importance of opening up access to industrial land at strategic sites such as Desertcreat, as well as the need to address investment in utilities, most notably in the wastewater treatment systems which are already beyond capacity in Mid Ulster.
Active travel projects, alongside the opportunities to build on the development potential of the Ulster Canal and a range of greenway and blueway projects, also formed part of the meeting’s agenda.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor McLean, said:
“There is an inextricable link between well-developed infrastructure in its broadest sense and a region’s pace of economic growth.
“And if infrastructure is a key economic driver, then addressing the regional, historical imbalance and underinvestment in infrastructure is critical to the overall success of Mid Ulster and the Mid South West region.
“It is equally critical to the ability of our business base, particularly our manufacturing sector, to expand and to compete more effectively in local, regional and international markets.
“We welcomed the opportunity to raise these issues with the Minister in what was a productive and valuable engagement, and hope we can continue to work in partnership with her to ensure we deliver against the wider ambitions for the Mid South West region”.
Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon said:
“I was delighted to be in Cookstown to meet with Mid Ulster Council as part of my ongoing engagement with representatives from the Mid South West Region Group and to hear about their vision for the area. We had a very useful discussion on a range of key issues including roads infrastructure, active travel schemes and wastewater treatment systems.
“There has been historic underinvestment in many areas across the North. Since becoming Minister, I have made clear my commitment to tackling regional imbalance and delivering for all communities. Last year I announced my intention to progress a number of strategic infrastructure and flagship projects. One of these projects was the A29 Cookstown Bypass so I am pleased that this week we have unveiled the preferred route for this scheme which is of significant importance to the town of Cookstown and the surrounding area. The proposed route will remove strategic traffic from the town centre which will in turn help to reduce traffic congestion, increase road safety and improve air quality. As part of my commitment to delivering green infrastructure and providing greater opportunities for active travel, I am pleased to confirm there will also be walking and cycling provision along the entire scheme.
“Going forward, I want to continue to work in partnership with the council and others to ensure that we can deliver the change people in Mid Ulster, and right across the North, have long deserved.”
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council make up the Mid South West region which is responsible for delivering a Regional Economic Strategy that focuses on boosting productivity, driving business growth, promoting sectoral strength and creating more and better paid jobs.
The members of the Mid South West Region Governance Steering Group who met with Minister Mallon were Councillor Martin Kearney (Mid Ulster), Councillor Cathal Mallaghan (Mid Ulster), Councillor Trevor Wilson (Mid Ulster) and Councillor Kevin Savage (Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon).