The Executive in Northern Ireland is planning to kick off a £491m investment in road projects in the northern part of the country to help accelerate infrastructure development over the next four years.

As one part of the investment, the government will upgrade the two A5 main roads lying between Londonderry and Strabane and Omagh and Ballygawley to dual carriageways.

Northern Ireland will also invest £57m for the completion of the A2 Greenisland road scheme from Belfast to Carrickfergus, while it has kept aside £105m for the completion of the A8 road scheme from Larne to Belfast.

The renovation of the two sections of the A5 highway, compromising of the stretch from Londonderry to the north of Strabane and the section south of Omagh to Ballygawley, will cost £170m and £160m respectively.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister for Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said: "Today’s announcement will not only benefit the construction industry as a whole, but it will also present real opportunities to manufacturing businesses and other sectors in the supply chain right across Northern Ireland."

Construction industry representatives have welcomed the announcement of the new initiative. However, it has sent a shock wave through land-owners and farmers, as they fear they could now lose their land.

The Irish and Northern Irish governments had initially planned a larger scale upgrade of roads as a cross-border joint investment but the project ran into trouble last year when the Irish government withdrew substantial financial support as part of austerity measures south of the border.

The new dual carriageways along sections of the A2, A5 and A8 roads in Northern Ireland are expected to act as a major stimulus for trade and investment across the region. They will also ease congestion and provide employment to nearly 3,000 people.