Northern Ireland

Desertcreat police, fire and prison college moves closer

overview of practical training area
Image caption The facility includes a practical training area for the emergency services

The long-awaited £130m police, fire and prison training college project in County Tyrone has moved a step closer with the appointment of a contractor.

It will be built by a consortium comprising of Belfast company Gilbert Ash and Spanish firm FCC.

The next few months will be spent agreeing the final cost.

Work has been scheduled to begin next spring, subject to final contract approval by the Northern Ireland Executive.

The facility - at Desertcreat, near Cookstown - has been in the pipeline for several years and will be one of the biggest construction projects in Northern Ireland.

Justice Minister David Ford said: "This is another significant phase in the development of this unique project.

"The delivery of the college is an important commitment in the Programme for Government and will provide a much needed boost to our local construction industry with the creation of much needed jobs."

There had been problems over costs incurred by the design team working on the project.

It was revealed in March that "professional incompetence" by the design team had led to the costs spiralling from £101m to £137m.

The project was first announced in 2004 and was originally due to be finished in 2008.

The cost envisaged at the time was £80m.

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