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Department not receiving payment for M2 petrol ads

The cash-strapped DRD is receiving no payment for this sign on the M2 advertising petrol prices. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
John Monaghan

SIGNS advertising petrol prices for a motorway service station have now appeared on the M2.

The signs have been erected about half a mile from the entrance to the Applegreen service station, which opened earlier this year near Templepatrick.

Last month The Irish News reported how official policy on motorway advertising was amended by the Department of Regional Development (DRD) to allow signage for the new station, despite officials arguing against the move for over two years.

There was also criticism of the department by Ukip MLA David McNarry after it confirmed it was not receiving any money for the use of its land under the arrangement, which has no set time limit.

He said: "This department doesn’t have two dimes to put together. Well done to Applegreen for wiping the eye of the department here."

The department said that the signs were considered to be "enhanced road user information".

Mr McNarry added that it was a "very serious matter" that the issue was not referred to the DRD assembly committee for scrutiny and expressed concern that it could "set a dangerous precedent."

Under the terms of its agreement with Applegreen, the department "takes ownership of the signs" on the motorway but the company is responsible for the cost of repair or maintenance work.

A spokeswoman for the DRD said that signs "such as this can be used with any motorway service area developed in the future."

"The department’s policy for the provision of signing to motorway service areas was first published in 2012 and was subsequently updated in April 2015 to reflect the changes in signing practices in GB."

Applegreen, which recently posted a net profit of £2 million for the three months to June, is a major retailer in the Republic and is opening four stations as part of a £25m investment in the north.

Two stations will open on opposite sides of the M1 at Ballyskeagh, outside Lisburn, next year with a third to be completed later in the year across from the existing premises in Templepatrick.

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