A5 road: Mixed reaction to High court ruling

A5 road The department has been given seven days to appeal the decision

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There has been a mixed reaction to the quashing of a decision to go ahead with a new £330m dual carriageway project.

Derry Chamber of Trade said the A5 decision was "extremely regrettable", however, a group that opposed the scheme said it was "flawed from the beginning".

On Monday, a High Court judge confirmed he was quashing the ruling, but the order was put on hold for a week.

The Department for Regional Development has seven days to appeal.

Sinead McLaughlin of Derry Chamber of Commerce said they were "disappointed" at the High Court's decision because "connectivity" between areas was very important.

"This road scheme has met obstacle after obstacle and the scheme now is very much diluted than was originally envisaged," she said.

"The A5 scheme was at a very advanced stage of development... so the court's decision is extremely regrettable."

She urged any under-spent money which had been allocated to the A5 project to go towards the A6 Derry to Belfast road scheme.

"The region deserves a road network that's fit for a 21st century economy," she said.

'Adequate'

Hamilton Hazzard of the A5 Alliance, which opposes work on an 85km stretch between Derry and Aughnacloy, County Tyrone said he could not accept the argument that the new road would bring hundreds of jobs.

He said an improvement of the existing road would have been adequate.

"We have always maintained that the existing road does need improved... and by doing that you are actually saving hundreds of jobs because if this road had went ahead as envisaged, it would have eliminated 3,000 acres of good quality agricultural land," he said.

"That would have meant farmers would have had to reduce stock numbers, they would have had to lay off workers, they would be purchasing less feeding stuff from their local merchant, they, in turn, would have been negatively impacted upon."

"I can say with certainty that if you take 3,000 acres of land out of production, you are going to lose jobs."

The scheme, the largest of its kind ever in Northern Ireland, forms part of a proposed key cross-border business route linking Dublin and the north west.

The legal challenge centred on the decision to press ahead with two sections of the route, for which the Stormont Executive had approved £280m.

Counsel for the Alliance claimed it has now become a different project, and that no proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) had been carried out.

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