The development of two major motorway service areas on the M2 near Glengormley could create 120 new jobs, it has been confirmed.
Petrogas Global Ltd, trading as Applegreen, has already started work on the pair of service areas between Junctions 4 and 5 on the M2, between Sandyknowes and Templepatrick. They are expected to open in March 2015 and will be the first motorway services in Northern Ireland.
An additional pair of service areas is planned for the M1 in 2015, bringing the company’s total investment in Northern Ireland to £25million.
The opening of the four new forecourt retail outlets is expected to create up to 250 permanent jobs - around 120 of them at the two Newtownabbey sites.
An additional 250 construction workers will be contracted at each site for the length of the building project.
Each of the new facilities will have 16 car fuelling points, an HGV fuelling area, Burger King Drive Thru, Applegreen convenience shop, a Bakewell café, a Subway restaurant and children’s play areas.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan welcomed the start of work at the M2 sites as “good news for Northern Ireland motorists and for jobs”, while Transport Minister Danny Kennedy said the investment by Applegreen provides “a boost to the economy and brings benefits to drivers and passengers using the existing road infrastructure.”
Robert Etchingham, chief executive officer for Applegreen, added: “I am delighted that we are now launching into Northern Ireland, as this area is a key part of our expansion plans. We are constantly looking for new sites to build and acquire, and although the motorway network in the north has significantly improved in recent years, there is still a shortage of service areas on these major routes. We have already received a lot of support from consumers in the north who know the Applegreen brand and we are confident that we can build on what is currently being offered.”