Belfast Telegraph

Public inquiry is told £850m road plan will go ahead

Road chiefs have vowed to press ahead with the controversial A5 Western Transport Corridor despite admitting there are environmental concerns.

The admission came on the opening day of the public inquiry near Omagh yesterday into the proposed dual carriageway from Derry to Aughnacloy.

The road blueprint is part of an ambitious £850m cross-border plan to create a key business route which will see the A5 join up with the N2 at the border.

The Irish government has already committed £400m to the project which is strongly opposed by many people who live close to the proposed route.

During the first day of the public inquiry, which is expected to last until the end of June, officials representing the Department for Regional Development outlined their case.

Engineer Paul Reid, of consultancy firm Mouchel, addressed environmental concerns and admitted there would be an increase in carbon emissions if the road gets the green light, but suggested the plan should go ahead.

He said: “Whilst such concerns are both understandable and potentially persuasive, it is my view that it is not appropriate to isolate the proposed scheme as a net contributor to emissions and hence a development project which conflicts with policy and should not be progressed.”

The DRD's Conor Loughrey said the inquiry was an important part of the road proposal.

He said: “Roads Service welcomes the holding of a public inquiry into the A5 project.

“It is important that the final solution is the best solution when considered against the key assessment criteria.”

Local campaigners are bitterly opposed to the plan and their legal representatives were due to cross-examine DRD representatives today.

Background

A public inquiry opened yesterday into the proposed Derry to Dublin A5 Western Transport Corridor. The dual carriageway will cost in the region of £850m. The Irish government has said it will stump up £400m of the required cash. The controversial plan has divided the local community with many of those affected vowing to fight the road proposal.

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