A long-awaited new investment strategy for Northern Ireland will inject around £1.6bn a year in key infrastructure for the region, it’s been revealed.

First Minister Paul Givan and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have published the Executive’s new draft Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The plans sets out a funding and planning model for investment in key areas such as roads, schools, hospitals, utilities and social housing.

“It takes a long-term view, setting out the Executive’s priorities for investment over the next 30 years,” it says.

The construction sector and other industries have been calling for longer-term planning over major infrastructure here for some time – including multi-year budgets.

The newly unveiled strategy includes at least £1.6bn of capital spending a year.

“This next (strategy) will be set against the immediate priorities of recovery from Covid-19 and adaptation to Brexit,” it says. “However, it will also need to focus on the long term (30 years +) emerging trends such as ensuring resilience to climate change, and meeting the needs of a growing and ageing population and socio economic change, as well as disruptive and new technologies that will affect the demand and use of and the supply of infrastructure.”

The draft strategy is now open for public consultation, and people will have 12 weeks to have their take on the initial plans.

Gerry McGinn, chief executive of the Strategic Investment Board, said: “Infrastructure is about more than bricks and mortar. Our roads connect our communities and our businesses, our hospitals improve our quality of life and our schools will inspire and equip the next generation to overcome the challenges of the future.

“This draft Investment Strategy is the framework that our future as a region and as a society will be built upon. It is therefore vital that we hear the views of more people in this consultation.”

First Minister Paul Givan said: “We want to deliver infrastructure that enables everyone to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives; that can support sustainable economic development and protect our environment. Our investments should help decarbonise our economy while building a strong, competitive region and maximising the benefits from new technology and innovation.

And Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This investment strategy is important for every individual, family and community. Our investment in infrastructure should improve people’s lives, and make this a great place to live, work and invest. And our infrastructure planning must ensure our investment is prioritised to help those most in need, create a fairer and greener society, and deliver first class public services.”