Ballykelly relocation bill likely to top £33m, says Michelle McIlveen

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The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen, has confirmed that the total cost of relocating her Department’s headquarters to Ballykelly is now likely to exceed £33m.

The figure, which has been newly revealed by departmental officials, includes both capital and current spending.

Three million of the £33.3m sum has already been spent on the project to date, the Minister revealed.

“The total cost incurred in the Ballykelly Relocation Project up to November 30, 2016 is £3m,” outlined Ms McIlveen.

“The anticipated overall cost of the project is estimated to be £21.5m capital and £11.8m resource,” she added.

The Minister said the overall expenditure figure may fluctuate as the project, which, as it progresses, is likely to have a tranformative effect on the North West economy in the years ahead.

“Costs will continue to be refined as we move through the various stages of the project,” said the Minister.

Back in September the ‘Journal’ reported how over 1,300 civil servants had indicated that they would like to work in the new headquarters in Ballykelly, more than double the 600 jobs earmarked, and that there were suggestions it could even become a new multi-departmental civil service hub in the North West.

DAERA HR boss Tracey Teague told the Stormont agriculture committee that the Department could fill 300 positions in Ballykelly immediately but due to the unwillingness of some ex-DARD staff to decamp to Derry it could take until 2029 to reach a full staff complement.

“It is safe to say that we have about 1,300 expressions of interest from other staff in the NICS who would like to work in Ballykelly,” Ms Teague told the committee.

The target date for Phase 1 of the project remains the end of 2017. Construction of the new headquarters on the old Shackleton Barracks site commenced last year.