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Improved roads can aid economy, quarrying experts claim

Increasing spending on Northern Ireland's roads will help the economy come out of recession, according to a body which represents the quarrying industry.

Gordon Best, regional director of the Quarrying Products Northern Ireland Association (QPANI), said improving the road network would "take the brakes off our small to medium-sized enterprises and help them drive the recovery forward".

Mr Best said the Asphalt Industry Alliance's report claimed badly maintained minor roads in England and Wales cost the British economy £4.1bn a year.

He said the report showed there was a "sound economic argument" for improving roads, accusing the Executive of "continued underspending".

"The facts are the Executive and the Regional Development Minister say they do not have the funding to carry out what all professional opinion say is required to maintain our roads network in a safe and satisfactory condition.

"This figure is £112m per year. We are nowhere near that figure, as over the last two years we have spent in and around £75m and £85m respectively and the under spend over the past 10 years now stands at approximately £500m.

"Unfortunately with more low temperatures expected this year some tough decisions may have to be taken particularly with regard to our rural road network."

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