About the Department for Regional Development

Part of: DRD management and structure

The Department for Regional Development (DRD) is one of 12 Northern Ireland Departments.  The main responsiblities of the Department are:

  • regional strategic planning and development policy
  • transport strategy and sustainable transport policy
  • provision and maintenance of all public roads
  • public transport policy and performance
  • certain policy and support work for air and sea ports 
  • policy on water and sewerage services and management of the Department’s shareholder interest in Northern Ireland Water

Our Business Plan for 2015-16 is available on the following page:

Reports on progress against Business Plan targets for previous years are available via the following links:

Vision, values and strategic objectives

The vision of the Department is:

“A region with modern, safe and sustainable transport, roads and water services which improve quality of life for all.”

A number of core values underpin the culture within which the Department works to fulfil its mission. These are:

  • commitment to delivery
  • leadership with purpose
  • teamwork and participation
  • support for our people
  • learning and improving
  • working in partnership
  • professionalism and corporate responsibility

The Department’s Vision and Values document can be accessed on the following link:

Our strategic objectives are:

  • supporting the economy by planning, developing and managing safe and sustainable transportation networks; setting the legislative and policy framework for harbour services; enhancing transport infrastructure links to airport and harbour gateways; and shaping the long-term future of the region
  • contributing to the health and well-being of the community and the protection of the environment by maintaining and developing the policy and regulatory environment which provides sustainable, high quality water and sewerage services


The Department operates under the direction and control of the Minister for Regional Development. Civil Servants are accountable to the Minister and the Minister is accountable to the Assembly.

The Permanent Secretary, Peter May, is the Accounting Officer for the Department and the Minister’s principal adviser.

Departmental Board

Peter May chairs the Departmental Board, which is a key element in the delivery of Corporate Governance within the Department. Corporate Governance is the way in which an organisation is directed and controlled.

Details of all the arrangements which have been established to ensure proper and effective management of the Department's affairs are set out in a Corporate Governance Framework.

In addition to Peter May, the Departmental Board comprises a further four Executive members and two non-Executive Independent members. The Independent members provide external advice, constructive challenge and business expertise to the Board in the efficient management and running of the Department. The Executive members of the Board include the Deputy Secretary for Governance, Policy and Resources; the Deputy Secretary for TransportNI; the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services; and the Director of Finance.

The Board meets once a month to review the Department's performance, to provide advice to the Minister and to provide corporate leadership to the organisation as a whole. The minutes of the Departmental Board are available in the Publications section of this website.

The Departmental Board maintains a register of interests. The latest register can be accessed through the following link: 

The Board is supported in its role by the Departmental audit and risk assurance committee. The most recent annual report on the operation of this committee can be accessed through the following link:

The audit and risk assurance committee maintains a register of interests.  The latest register can be accessed through the following link: 


In June 2015 the Board agreed to the establishment of a finance sub-committee and a major projects sub-committee.  These sub-committees are responsible and accountable at all times and in all decision to the Departmental Board as a whole.

The aim of the finance sub-committee is to discuss and consider key strategic finance issues impacting on the Department and through this process to assist and enhance strategic financial management and financial decision making.

The aim of the major projects sub-committee is to discuss and consider issues associated with existing and proposed major capital projects being taken forward by the Department.

A relationships with arm’s length bodies sub-committee operated between November 2008 and June 2015. A copy of its final annual report for 2014-15 can be accessed through the following link:

The core groups

There are two core groups in the Department.

Governance, Policy and Resources

Responsible for public transport budgets, performance monitoring, Accessible Transport and the Department’s governance and sponsorship role of NITHC/Translink.  Also responsible for regional development and transport policy and planning, sustainable transport, including the new Cycling Unit, transport legislation and air and sea ports.  This includes responsibility for coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Regional Development Strategy and the New Approach to Regional Transportation.

The Group also has responsibility for water policy, management of the Department’s shareholder interest in Northern Ireland Water and a range of corporate services. This includes support for the Minister, human resources, strategic planning, information systems, organisational development, finance, internal audit and equality issues.


Responsible for ensuring that the public road network is managed, maintained and developed, as well as delivery of wider transport projects including Belfast Rapid Transit.  TransportNI has a key responsibility in ensuring that measures are taken to implement the roads aspects of both the New Approach to Regional Transportation and the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2011-21.  It is responsible for just over 25,850 kilometres of public roads, approximately 10,000 kilometres of footways, 5,800 bridges, 280,660 streetlights and 412 public car parks.

Role in relation to Arm’s Length Bodies

The Department has an important role in relation to the two following separate organisations, each of which, while at arm’s length from the Department, has its own Board of Directors and Corporate Governance arrangements.

Northern Ireland Water (NIW)

NIW is a Government Owned Company and the statutory water and sewerage undertaker operating at arm’s length from central government. The Minister is responsible for overall policy and legislation and sets strategic objectives through guidance. The actual delivery of water and sewerage services is, however, the responsibility of the Company, subject to regulatory oversight by the NI Authority for Utility Regulation and environmental regulators.

The Department monitors NIW’s business performance and engages with the Company Board, Chair and Executive Team on strategic and shareholder matters. DRD is responsible for paying customer subsidy to NIW, making loans for investment and agreeing the Company’s annual budget and operating plan. The Minister is also responsible for making appointments to the Board of NIW.

Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHC)

NITHC is a public corporation and the parent company of the publicly owned bus and rail companies in the region. These companies, Northern Ireland Railways, Ulsterbus and Citybus (trading as Metro) operate under the brand name of Translink. NITHC’s statutory duties are to manage public transport properties and to oversee the activities of Translink.

We provide financial assistance to Translink as part of the Executive’s investment in public transport here, in line with the Transport Act 2011. We are also responsible for setting specific targets for NITHC and monitoring the extent to which these targets are achieved. Furthermore, we are also responsible for ensuring that appropriate financial and management controls are in place and that compliance with those controls is effectively monitored. The Minister is responsible for appointing the Chair and members of the NITHC Board.

Role in relation to the Northern Ireland Trust Ports

The Department is also responsible for ports policy and the legislative framework within which ports operate in Northern Ireland.

There are five commercial ports in Northern Ireland – four Public Trust Ports (Belfast, Londonderry, Warrenpoint and Coleraine) and one in private ownership (Larne). Public Trust Ports are autonomous, self-financing statutory bodies whose constitutions are set out in legislation. They operate on a commercial basis with the profit generated by their activities reinvested to improve their facilities.

The Department appoints the Chair and members of the trust ports at Belfast, Londonderry and Warrenpoint. The Department also appoint the Donaghadee Harbour Commissioners.

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Belfast Harbour Commissioners are responsible for the improvement, maintenance and management of the port of Belfast and the accommodation and facilities therein. The Commissioners are empowered to do so under the Belfast Harbour Order (NI) 2002.

Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners

Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners are responsible for the improvement, maintenance and management of the port of Londonderry and the accommodation and facilities therein. The Commissioners are empowered to do so under the Londonderry Harbour Order (NI) 2002.

Warrenpoint Harbour Authority

Warrenpoint Harbour Authority is responsible for the improvement, maintenance and management of the port of Warrenpoint and the accommodation and facilities therein. The Commissioners are empowered to do so under the Warrenpoint Harbour Authority Order (NI) 2002.