Police and fire recruits hub backed
A £139 million police and fire training college has finally been given the government green light.
The proposed state-of-the-art facility in Desertcreat near Cookstown, which will also train prison officers, had been hit with a series of delays, which at times left its future in doubt.
But Stormont's Department of Finance has now approved the business case for the project.
A full planning application will now be lodged along with a tendering process to find contractors to deliver the college ready to welcome its first recruits in 2015.
The facility is joint funded by the departments of justice and health, the latter having responsibility for the Fire Service.
Justice Minister David Ford and Health Minister Edwin Poots welcomed the development.
Mr Ford said: "This is an important milestone for everyone associated with the Desertcreat project and one which brings closer the building of an integrated public services training college with world-class facilities. Our police officers, prison officers and firefighters put their lives on the line for people across Northern Ireland day and daily, and deserve training facilities of the highest quality.
"Desertcreat will deliver this and I look forward to the next stage of the programme with the submission of a full planning application and the initiation of a tender process."
Work is due to start on the greenfield site in 2013, with the college opening two years later.
Mr Poots said: "This is excellent news and means we can now seek full planning permission and move another step closer to having state-of-the-art, integrated training facilities for our emergency service personnel."