Northern Ireland

Balmoral Show: £20m pledged for link roads to motorway

There were long tailbacks on some roads into the venue on Wednesday
Image caption There were long tailbacks on some roads into the venue on Wednesday

About £20m has been pledged to construct two major roads linking the new site of Balmoral Show to the motorway network, it has been claimed.

Terence Brannigan, chair of the Maze/Long Kesh development Corporation, was speaking after roads around the former prison site were congested on the first day of the event.

Mr Brannigan said rural roads were "not designed for that kind of traffic"

But he said work was under way to put the new infrastructure in place.

"In 12 months time it won't be the same," he said. "But let's not pretend that in 12 months time we are going to have two roads linking up to the motorway network.

"The work is going on now, as we speak, in respect of putting two links into the motorway, one from the east and one from the west.

"We are doing environmental studies now in order to get clearance. We will then have to go to planning and from that we will then be able to build the two roads."

'Rigorous'

Up to 80,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event, which has moved from its previous home at the King's Hall in Belfast.

On Wednesday, First Minister Peter Robinson said he hoped any problems with access would be overcome.

Mr Brannigan said getting the infrastructure sorted had been a priority for the corporation, but acknowledged there was a "rigorous process" to complete.

"If people have to sit in queues for a long period of time, it can spoil what is a magnificent show, a fantastic event and the showcase for Northern Ireland," he said.

"The money has been ring-fenced so we can't complain that we haven't got the money, we can't complain that we are not getting the support.

"But there is a due process we have to go through. It is frustrating, nonetheless it is a process we must go through."

Visitors to this year's show have been urged to use public transport.

The Balmoral Show website contains details of how to get to the show by car or by public transport.

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