Infrastructure: more than roads and planes

PEYE 020212KB4 0025 Alan Taylor, Managing Partner of Arthur Cox in Belfast, outlines the economic importance of infrastructure in all its forms and the potential of the Maze-Long Kesh site.

For many, the word infrastructure means the condition of the roads or the transport network when in fact it describes so much more.

At the heart of any successful economy is an effective economic infrastructure that facilitates and enables commerce and social activity.

Infrastructure is at the heart of the sectors upon which our economy depends – including water, waste, communications, transport, schools, health and energy. The state of our infrastructure can have a profound impact on both the economic well-being of the nation and the lifestyle of individual citizens.

In Northern Ireland, infrastructure is key to attracting overseas investors.

Our advanced telecommunications infrastructure, in particular, is often cited as one of the main reasons why companies invest in the region.

With direct transatlantic cable links to the United States and continental Europe, an advanced digital network rolled out with the help of Belfast’s communications-savvy businesses, the combination of technology and available skills in Northern Ireland is attractive to overseas investors.

The production of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ in Northern Ireland is one of the more globally visible examples of what can be achieved when infrastructure and skills match up.

Around the world, there are stunning examples of the ways in which investment in infrastructure make an impact on the economy.

Take a look at Africa and one can see how the construction of tarmac roads by the Chinese is making a difference-enabling African countries to link their cities in a fast and direct way.

Singapore’s digital and fibre networks are the envy of developed nations, while Europe’s high-speed rail network is ‘best in class’ and remains a strong competitor to air transport, in an age where the ‘greening’ of infrastructure is becoming much more important as advanced economies seek low-carbon solutions to growth.

Alan Taylor, Managing Partner of Arthur Cox in Belfast, says: “Infrastructural credibility in the 21st century is essential for any outward-looking economy.

Motorway 4229748_xxl “In Northern Ireland, we have an improving infrastructure and it’s important that we continue to invest in it because we know from working with companies seeking to locate here and with businesses wishing to sell here that simple things like air access and a good broadband service are at the top of their wish list before they even set foot in the place.

“We also know that if Northern Ireland wishes to continue to build on its reputation as a serious destination for inward investment then that infrastructural development needs to continue in a planned and strategic way.

“It’s not quite a case of ‘if we build it, they’ll come’ but it certainly helps. We know politicians are working hard to resolve the challenges of getting projects such as Maze/Long Kesh off the ground and we encourage them to persevere.

“The thought of creating almost 5,000 jobs on what may become Europe’s biggest building site is a stunning prospect and will, like moths to a flame, attract the interest of investors from around the world.”

In 2010, the Institute of Civil Engineers presented its State of the Nation Northern Ireland Infrastructure Report which balances the desire for a move towards a low carbon economy with the reality of budgetary restraints.

The report uses a graded A to E system to assess different parts of the local infrastructure with A meaning ‘fit for the future’ and E meaning ‘not fit for purpose’.

No aspect of Northern Ireland’s infrastructure received an A grade but waste, flooding, water and the energy sectors scored a Grade C, for ‘requiring attention’. Encouragingly, the transport sector, scored a Grade B meaning ‘adequate for now’.

It’s no secret that decision-makers would like to invest more in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure but budgetary constraints limit what can be achieved. Yet, it’s also no secret that infrastructural investment delivers economic results and social benefits too.

The challenge is to keep moving forward.

For any more information on the topics discussed or for general discussion on infrastructure in Northern Ireland, please don’t hesitate to contact

Arthur Cox
Tel: 028 9026 2671

Capital House
3 Upper Queen Street
Belfast, BT1 6PU

Related Posts