First motorway service stations for Northern Ireland
Plans for the first motorway service stations in Northern Ireland have been given the go-ahead.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood has announced planning permission for two new service stations on the M2.
Plans for another two service stations on the M1 are due to be brought before Lisburn Borough Council on Wednesday evening for ratification.
Currently, commuters have to leave the motorways at an existing junction to find a nearby service station.
The stations will have direct slip road access on and off both motorways.
On the M2, the new service stations will be located opposite each other on either side of the motorway at Browns Road, Ballycraigy, about two miles west of the Sandyknowles roundabout.
On the M1, the proposed service stations, are again to be located opposite each other.'Significant boost'
The sites are almost midway between Lisburn and Belfast, about a quarter mile south of the Ballyskeagh Road.
Mr Attwood said: "New motorway service stations are a first for Northern Ireland.
"This will be good for travellers and good for jobs. Their development will also provide a significant boost to the local economy, with a potential investment of some £20m.
"These large scale investment applications were submitted after detailed pre-application discussions between my officials and the applicants and represent another example of how DOE Planning is providing a speedier, more cost effective and more responsive service for everyone. "
The planning applications were submitted late last year by Petrogas Ltd, which currently operate all the motorway service areas on the island of Ireland, under the Applegreen brand.
Newtownabbey Borough Council has already agreed with the opinion to approve the new service stations on the M2.
Lisburn City Council will be consulted on Wednesday night with an opinion to approve the other two on the M1.