The Public Inquiry into the Derry to Dungiven dualling scheme will be held in Limavady during the last week of September, the DSD Minister has revealed.
Minister Danny Kennedy was speaking last week at Stormont when members quizzed him on the project, which local campaigners hope will see the Dungiven bypass decoupled from the rest of the scheme.
Mr Kennedy said letters will be issued shortly to objectors informing them the inquiry will be held at the Roe Park Hotel, Limavady, during the last week of September and the first week of October 2012.
Sinn Fein’s Francie Malloy asked what is the likelihood of a bypass for Dungiven, “given the high emissions there in relation to European standards?”
The Minister said he was “aware of the concern in Dungiven and the local Council area about the issue about fumes”.
“I can confirm that it will be possible to bring forward the draft Statutory Orders for the construction of the bypass at Dungiven ahead of and without compromising the future delivery of the remainder of that scheme. However, this is, of course, all conditional on available funding,” he said.
Mr. Kennedy said there were 122 objections to the entire scheme, with 11 letters of comment. Objections mainly concern landowner issues such as severance, loss of land and environmental issues, he said.
“Therefore, I think it is important that we move to the public inquiry stage, which will give a further opportunity to concerned landowners and objectors to raise points of concern, not only with the inspector and his team but also with my officials, who will also listen carefully. I hope that we can work together to make progress on that very important scheme. I think that the scheme is accepted across this House and by local representatives as one that would benefit the local economy and people in general,” he said.
SDLP MLA John Dallat congratulated the Minister on his announcement to hold a public inquiry into the A6 scheme.
“I encourage him to write his name into history by also announcing the decoupling of the bypass at Dungiven. That is something that his predecessor failed to do, and the people of Dungiven would deeply appreciate it. It is the most polluted town in this part of Ireland,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said: “It is possible to decouple, which is an important difference from previous arrangements”.
“If there are funding opportunities that can be availed of, it may be that we will carry forward that scheme. However, it is all dependent on finance,” he added.