£800k land seized for A5 project returned
Almost £800,000 has been paid for farmland which was seized for the stalled A5 project – and which has now been returned to the farmers, it has emerged.
The Department for Regional Development now faces questions over what it is doing to reclaim the cash.
Earlier this month a court quashed the decision to press ahead with the £330m dualling of the A5, which runs from Londonderry to Aughnacloy.
Roads Minister Danny Kennedy said he would not be appealing the ruling – effectively killing off the project.
It has now emerged that ownership of land vested from farmers for the new road has been returned to them.
A letter sent to farmers confirms all construction work had ceased.
The DRD revealed £795,566 has been paid out to farmers for land taken as part of the proposed scheme.
In relation to the money already paid out, a DRD spokesman said: "The department is considering options to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of everyone involved."
The deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union, Barclay Bell, said the landowners affected were in a "very difficult situation".
"I think the main problem is that farmers just aren't really sure where they are. It's the uncertainty that faces them in trying to plan ahead and look forward, as far as their businesses go," he said.