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Brexit may hurt investment in Northern Ireland infrastructure, civil engineers warn Stormont

By Margaret Canning

Uncertainty over June's EU referendum could seriously disrupt the marketplace for investment in Northern Ireland's infrastructure.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) said it was working with members to examine the implications of a possible Brexit, such as skills shortages and possible increases to material costs.   

ICE regional director Richard Kirk added: "Uncertainty is a concern. The prospect of disruption or change can adversely affect the supply chain and investment community.

"During the referendum process, the Northern Ireland Government must take steps to reassure industry and maintain stability."

While Northern Ireland has benefited from EU funding "with many significant infrastructure projects developed with this support mechanism", Mr Kirk added: "It is not in our remit to take a view on whether or not the UK should remain within the EU. Civil engineering is, however, a global industry with a global supply chain and a change to the status quo could affect access to the market place in which it operates."

Stormont departments have received a wealth of cash injections from the EU, including money for roads and railway upgrades.

The bulk of funds aimed at helping business, trade and infrastructure in 2013/14 and 2014/15 went through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The Department for Regional Development also received £50m in EU funding streams over the last two financial years.

That included £10.7m from the Interreg Iva scheme, which was mostly geared towards overhauling the Enterprise train service. Another £19m went towards upgrading the Londonderry to Coleraine line, and works on the Knockmore to Lurgan train lines.

Additional funds were spent on upgrading of the A2 between Belfast's Shore Road and Greenisland.

The ICE this week joined the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in a call for more infrastructure spending, saying a lack of investment could undermine the potential benefits of a cut in corporation tax.

Belfast Telegraph

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