Fort George clean up now delayed to 2015

Fort George.
Fort George.

Decontamination work on Derry’s Fort George site is now not expected to be completed before the end of 2015 at the earliest.

The latest delay comes more than six years after the discovery of a range of pollutants - including arsenic, lead and hydrocarbons - at the former British Army barracks.

SDLP Foyleside candidate Rory Farrell said the continued delay is “hampering Derry’s economic development.”

“Regeneration at Fort George is a key building block on Derry’s road to prosperity. The lack of progress is an insult to the people of this city.

“It has the potential to be a landmark site that can attract thousands of jobs to this region but development cannot begin as the minister has not given the decontamination process the priority it deserves,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Social Development (DSD), who took over the management of the site from Derry’s urban regeneration company Ilex last year, said work will take some 18 months to complete but can not yet proceed until planning permission is granted.

“It is currently anticipated that Outline Planning Permission will be in place by June 2014. The detail of the contractor’s capping and groundwater remediation designs must be agreed with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to ensure that it is satisfied that these comply with the various conditions which will be attached to the Outline Planning Permission when granted. On this basis it is unlikely that the remediation work can be completed before the end of 2015,” she said.

Mr Farrell said: “We are crying out for jobs, investment and opportunity but the minister’s inaction is prolonging the unemployment crisis in Derry.

“I would urge minister Nelson McCausland to refocus his attention on the Fort George site.

“A solution must be found that will allow decontamination works to be completed as quickly as possible.”