Nichola Mallon says A5 can still be finished by 2028

Roads minister Nichola Mallon believes the multi-million pound A5 project between Derry and Aughnacloy can still be finished by 2028.

By Kevin Mullan
Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 5:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 5:02 pm

The massive road scheme which will provide 85 kilometres of dual carriageway from New Buildings to the border at Aughnacloy was further delayed earlier this year when a Planning Appeals Commission inspector recommended the preparation of and consultation on further documents on the topics of flood risk and the consideration of alternatives to the proposed scheme.

It is anticipated a public inquiry will be reconvened next year.

Sinn Féin MLA Pádraig Delargy raised the delayed project with Ms. Mallon in the Assembly this week.

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The A5

"I am concerned that, while progress on the A6 is welcome, the public reopening of another vital stretch of road for the north-west — the A5 — has been delayed again. Will the Minister provide an update on what her Department is doing to ensure that there will be no further delays to the A5?" he asked.

Ms. Mallon replied: "We have discussed the challenges and delays to the A5 many times in the Chamber. One of the things that I find frustrating is that, at a previous public inquiry, the scheme was given the green light. Unfortunately, we had no Ministers in place to take it forward.

"My officials are working at pace towards the publication of a new environmental statement addendum so that the public inquiry can be reconvened, as recommended by the Planning Appeals Commission, next year. Receipt of the PAC's final report from the inquiry should then allow a ministerial decision to be taken.

"Subject to the successful completion of all the necessary statutory processes and environmental assessments, the construction of phase 1A could then commence. The programme for scheme delivery has, in recent years, referred to full scheme completion by 2028, and, although some slippage has occurred, that time frame remains achievable.

"I reiterate my commitment to the A5 flagship project, which is of significant strategic importance to the region and will help to tackle regional imbalance, improve the economy, job prospects and prosperity, connect communities and improve road safety."