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ICE sounds warning over NI infrastructure planning

Words: Roger Milne

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to publish a regional infrastructure plan and warned that the incoming Planning Reform Bill and next year’s devolution of planning powers to local councils risk having a “negative impact” on what the organisation claimed was “an already unwieldy planning process”.

Those views were highlighted in the organisation’s latest State of the Nation report which also voiced concern that the province could face power blackouts if the north-south interconnector project, still in planning, is not accelerated.

The document stated: “Care must be taken to ensure that the reformation delivers a process which is appropriate for developers and consultees alike and results in quicker decisions bearing in mind that the current PPS1 has a presumption in favour of approval.

"The approach to the appraisal of projects should also be reviewed to ensure a more complete and consistent system of assessment is adopted across infrastructure sectors. The articulation of clear strategic need, together with pipelining and clear sponsorship would enable increased confidence to grow amongst infrastructure owners (in both the public and private sectors), investors and infrastructure finance providers and the wider supply chain."