Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has set out the changes needed over the next decade and beyond for transport delivery.
The Minister published the Department’s priorities for the future of transport – Planning for the Future of Transport – Time for Change, which is about refocusing and reprioritising the aims of the Department for Infrastructure to meet the needs of new and emerging challenges facing our communities.
Minister Mallon said: “Reprioritisation of our aims and actions is necessary to meet the needs of new and emerging challenges. Climate change is a key and obvious driver for change. Now, more than ever, we need to do more and do it faster. COVID has also shown us a future with less traffic on our streets and made us appreciate our own neighbourhoods and surroundings. There is a real growing desire and genuine need not to return to the ‘old normal’. Now is the time for change.
While my ambitions are clear, I have to be honest, in order to deliver on those ambitions, my department’s way of working and priorities have to change. This road map is designed to implement that change. In order for us to deliver the change our communities and citizens deserve, we have to be up for the challenge of change ourselves.
We also need to be more proactive in planning and design which necessitates meaningful collaboration with a wide range of partners. We all know what works in principle but we have to be sensitive to local considerations and preferences.
We must also change our approach in securing genuine integration between the planning of land use and transport infrastructure – that can reduce the need for motorised travel in the longer term”
The Minister said she will turn the curve and instigate change: “Up to this point here in Northern Ireland we have been too slow to change and while we are committed and can see the merits of greener and more sustainable travel choices, we have fallen short when it comes to delivery. Our streets in urban areas are often dominated by vehicles, either moving or parked. That needs to become the past not the future. Now is the time for a reset, a refocus and a renewed effort to make change happen.
I am determined to lead this change from the front guiding my Department to work in a different way, putting the right schemes in the right place. The focus is on the changes we need to make working inside and outside government and with transport providers so that we collectively deliver societal, environmental and economic objectives. The streets in our cities, towns and villages are shared social spaces as well as links for cycles, buses, lorries and cars. Our challenge is first to reduce the need to travel and then to change behaviour away from polluting and carbon intensive modes to cleaner and more healthy ways of getting around – the best is walking, wheeling and cycling.
If we can grasp opportunities now and take the bold and necessary steps, we will deliver what is needed for more effective transport systems which lead to better health, environmental and societal outcomes.”