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The infrastructure of Northern Ireland is set to be transformed by the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2008-18, published in January this year by the Executive of the Northern Irish Assembly. The Investment Strategy sets out a planned spend approaching £20bn on new infrastructure in Northern Ireland over a 10-year period, approximately £6bn of which will be delivered over the next three years. Funding in the main is from the Northern Ireland Executive, but supplemented by the disposal of public assets and other third-party sources.

Other sponsors have set up investment funds, such as the Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund, a private equity fund set up by four New York City pension funds in April 2008, which aims to deliver a £75m investment into infrastructure investment projects in Northern Ireland with a focus on the border areas. This boost to the Northern Irish economy is intended to deliver high-quality public services throughout the region and should provide significant opportunities for sponsors, contractors, funders and their legal, financial and technical advisers.

There is currently much speculation as to exactly how this money will be spent, what projects will be brought to the market and how these will be procured. The investment strategy gives some indication of this by identifying six ‘pillars of investment’: networks, skills, health, social, environment and productive. These pillars are then divided into twenty-three ‘sub-pillars’, each to be delivered by the relevant departments of the executive.

The Strategic Investment Board (SIB), the body established by the executive to assist in the delivery of major infrastructure programmes in Northern Ireland, has developed a template for investment delivery plans which covers method of procurement, capital expenditure profile and nature of projects, among other things. The SIB has also put in place an investment strategy tracking system with a ‘senior responsible owner’ appointed for each project, tasked with reporting monthly on capital spend to date, contract structure and nature of sub-contracts. This control is to aid ministers of the executive in monitoring infrastructure spend on a monthly basis over the life of the investment strategy. To date, five investment delivery plans have been published covering, among other things, roads, water, energy, waste, housing, regeneration, further and higher education and telecommunications.

The broad thrust of the projects which are to be brought to the market can be gleaned from the key goals of each pillar of investment and accompanying milestones set out in the investment strategy:

Networks key goals

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