Work could begin on A5 road project by 'late 2019' as department press ahead with plans
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has said that work could begin on the A5 Western Transport Corridor dual carriageway project as soon as late 2019.
A High Court judge last month confirmed that a decision to approve the scheme is to be quashed.
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Mr Justice McCloskey made the order after the Stormont department who gave the go-ahead for the project announced it was no longer defending a legal challenge.
However, the DfI confirmed on Tuesday that the project "remains a high priority" and that it will begin work to allow a fresh decision to be taken on the project in 2019.
The work is likely to include the publication of changes to the existing Environmental Statement and a new six week public consultation.
A DfI spokesperson confirmed that if there is no Stormont Assembly in place by the time a decision is to be made they will consider whether to issue a decision under the new NI Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions Act, introduced by Secretary of State Karen Bradley to allow senior civil servants to make decisions in the absence of Ministers.
The spokesperson said that subject to any further issues construction on the first phase of the project could begin in late 2019.
Sinn Fein MP Orfhlaith Begley welcomed the confirmation the project would go ahead.
“This groundbreaking project will undoubtedly improve connectivity across the north west and create direct links to Dublin," the Sinn Fein MP said.
“Recent fatalities on the A5 have once again reflected the need for enhanced infrastructure to improve road safety on one of the most dangerous roads in Ireland."
Managing Director of the Construction Employers Federation John Armstrong said other departments should use their new powers to start work on projects.
It is now critical that all government departments follow the lead of the DfI by seeking to utilise the powers of the new legislation to bring forward a range of capital works, both public and private sector, which are currently unable to progress for a variety of reasons," he said.
“It is also critical that we see consistency in application of the Act and its associated guidance by all Government Departments as it must, in the continued absence of Ministers, be the means by which greater certainty can be applied to all levels of public sector construction works”.
Belfast Telegraph Digital