It’s not the end of the road for plans to upgrade A5, says Kennedy
THE Regional Development Minister has insisted the A5 dual carriageway project has not been abandoned.
Danny Kennedy told a delegation of councillors from Donegal, Dungannon/South Tyrone, Londonderry, Monaghan, Omagh and Strabane that the project remains delayed — but has not been halted.
The 53-mile western corridor plan forms part of a proposed key cross-border business route linking Dublin and the north west.
The Executive has insisted it remains committed to the partnership project with the Irish government — although the £110m earmarked for it is being reallocated.
After the meeting, Omagh council chairwoman Ann Marie Fitzgerald said: “The minister recognises the A5 as a key strategic route, and the importance of the development of the dual carriageway project to provide connectivity into the north west.
“We will maintain the pressure on him to ensure that the delivery of the A5 dual carriageway project in its entirety remains high on his agenda”.
Mr Kennedy’s reassurances came a week after a cross-party, cross-border delegation of councillors also met Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin to discuss the plan.
Back in April, the High Court blocked permission for construction on the stretch between Derry and Aughnacloy following a legal challenge from campaign group the Alternative A5 Alliance made up of farmers, landowners and their supporters.
The group won a judicial review after a ruling that an environmental impact assessment had not been carried out properly, although the department says the work is now ongoing.
Mr Kennedy decided not to appeal the verdict, blocking any immediate go-ahead for the project, but appears determined to press on.
“The dual carriageway scheme for the A5 between Derry/Londonderry and Ballygawley has been delayed, but the project has not been abandoned,” Mr Kennedy told the delegation.
The development of a revised programme for the funding and implementation of the entire A5 project was also discussed at the meeting.
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In April, Danny Kennedy, who is responsible for transport, decided not to appeal a High Court verdict blocking the A5 project. Mr Justice Stephens ruled a fuller assessment of the impact on the rivers Foyle and Finn special areas of conservation should have been carried out. Doubts over the project had already surfaced when the Irish government substantially downsized its contribution to the plan.
Belfast Telegraph Digital