Two major road schemes connecting Derry to Belfast and to Dublin must not be delayed, the city’s business community has warned.
Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of the city’s Chamber of Commerce says the north’s transport minister Danny Kennedy must recognise the economic value of the A5 and A6 routes for the city and for the north west region. She says delays on both projects are restricting the region’s economic growth.
“Ilex has just published the agreed regeneration plan for Derry-Londonderry and the North West.
“This projects a possible saving of £200m to the public finances if the plan is fully adopted.
“But economic development is being restricted at present because of the poor road links to the North West.”
Progress on the A5, a dual carriageway between Derry and Aughnacloy, has currently stalled while a public inquiry - launched after the planned route received 2000 objections during a consultation period - is completed.
The A6 plans link Derry and Belfast via a dual carriageway.
Ms McLaughlin says both schemes are of the utmost importance for Derry.
She says speculation that the Dungiven bypass - part of the A6 plans - is to be delayed is of grave concern.
“We have received reassurance from the Department for Regional Development that preparation for the Dungiven by-pass remains on schedule.
“But we are very unhappy that there is no money in the 2011/15 budget period to begin construction.
“Equally, the Toome-Randalstown section of the A6 causes delays that are a disgrace to the main highway between the two major cities of Northern Ireland.”
The CEO of Derry’s chamber of commerce says the onus is now on the minister to act.
“We urge the DRD minister Danny Kennedy to review his budget, recognizing the enormous importance of these improvements to the A6 for the economy of the North West.
“Similarly, there should be no delay to progress on major improvement to the A5 link to Dublin.
“The A5 public enquiry will end soon and we look forward to a positive response from the minister in the autumn. There must be no delay to either scheme,” she says.