Delayed A5 duelling scheme to go ahead
The delayed A5 dualling scheme between Newbuildings and Strabane is expected to start next year after the completion of a consultation process, which was announced yesterday.
While there was cross-party delight at the announcement, the scheduled section south of Ballygawley will not progress as planned, and Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen could face a court battle with farmers who stand to lose land.
Ms McIlveen said: "This important project will not only have positive benefits for the local economy and construction industry, but will also significantly improve safety and journey times.
"The section south of the A4 at Ballygawley will not be progressed. This is in line with a recommendation from the 2011 public inquiry which stated there should be a commitment from the Irish Government in relation to the N2 improvement scheme.
"I am currently seeking accelerated passage for the Land Acquisition and Compensation Bill. This would bring compensation levels for landowners on a par with England and Wales."
But John Dunbar, chairman of the Alternative A5 Alliance, said the compensation on offer was insufficient for the land lost.
"Farmers will not be able to buy replacement land because it doesn't exist, so they face a tax bill of 40% on the money they might get," he added. "This means the Government is giving with one hand and taking with the other.
"We will fight this project to the end, the minister can be sure of that. She had better get ready for battle. We will go to the High Court and the European Court."
DUP MLA Gary Middleton urged people to attend the public consultation meetings, which start within the next fortnight.
"This is excellent news for the people in the north west who have lived without adequate infrastructure, which has hampered existing businesses and deterred others from setting up," he said.