Belfast will this week host a major UK conference for professionals in the transportation and roads sectors.
The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation will be staging its presidential conference, attracting more than 180 delegates from Britain and Ireland to debate a range of infrastructure-related topics.
Climate change, sustainable transport and the role of transport in the current economic situation are all on the agenda.
The conference is taking place in Belfast because this year’s CIHT president is Geoff Allister, chief executive of the Department for Regional Development’s Roads Service.
Mr Allister said that the industry is going through difficult times at present and many are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review next month.
Mr Allister, whose theme for the conference is Leading the Way, said he hoped the topics at Friday’s conference would challenge delegates.
“Our infrastructure across the UK needs to be developed, but it has to be done in a sustainable way,” he said.
Delegates will be getting an update on the managed motorway concept from Nirmal Kotecha, director of major projects at the Highways Agency in Britain, and hearing about the Republic’s now extensive motorway network from Fred Barry, chief executive of the National Roads Authority in Dublin.
But there will also be a debate on public transport, with Philip O’Neill, chief operating officer of Translink, outlining the benefits of bus and train travel.
Another speaker will be David Lyle, chief executive of Belfast-based advertising agency LyleBailie International, which has specialised in the production of |a award-winning road safety |television commercials.
Mr Allister is only the fourth Northern Ireland member to serve as president of the CIHT, which this year celebrates its 80th anniversary,
The Leading the Way conference will be launched on Thursday with a special dinner at the City Hall, when SDLP Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery will address 350 guests.
The conference will then take place at the Waterfront Hall on Friday.