I ask the Minister for Regional Development why the public consultation on the preferred routes for the Belfast rapid transit system is being deferred until after the primary legislation has completed its Assembly stages. (AQO 896/10)
Conor Murphy (Sinn Féin)
My Department sought advice from a number of sources, including the Office of the Legislative Counsel and the Departmental Solicitor’s Office, on the timelines for the proposed rapid-transit legislation. Those discussions identified the need for accurate timetabling of legislation to enable it to be delivered within the mandate of this Assembly. In addition, there was a possibility of confusion arising if the public were also being consulted on the details of route alignment options during the enabling legislation process.
As a result, my Department decided not to engage with the public on route options until early 2011. That will also allow greater detail on route options to be made available to the public during the consultation phase. Belfast rapid transit is a key priority in the Programme for Government and in the investment strategy, and it is the subject of an important commitment from me and the Department.
Brian Wilson (Green)
I thank the Minister for his response. I am disappointed, because there seems to be some slippage. I hope that that does not reflect commitment to the rapid-transit project. When the legislation comes to the Assembly, will it include route options beyond the three that we have already?