'The way it is, you’re just transferring the bottleneck from Dungiven to Drumahoe'

Derry City and Strabane District Council has called on the Department for Infrastructure to provide an urgent update and clarification regarding the completion of the A6 dual carriageway project.

Sinn Féin Councillor Alex Duffy brought forward the motion, which was unanimously supported, with some representatives warning that failure to complete the Drumahoe dualling would result in transferring the bottleneck experienced for decades at from Dungiven to Derry.

Council will also seek a guarantee that a new Environmental Impact assessment be carried out for the final phase.

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While welcoming the Department for Infrastructure’s (DfI) update on the A6 dual carriageway, concerns were expressed about the lack of clarity regarding the final completion date.

Dungiven's Main Street. DER0518GS043Dungiven's Main Street. DER0518GS043
Dungiven's Main Street. DER0518GS043

Colr. Duffy stated: “This has caused ongoing disruption to the neighbouring communities and it’s essential that this is addressed.”

“As a council we all recognise the significance of the project and the impact that has on our communities so we call on the Department for Infrastructure to provide us with an update on the clarification regarding final completion to the A6 dual carriageway. “

Councillor Duffy stressed the need for all parties to work together to ensure that the completion of the A6 dual carriageway proceeds smoothly with minimal disruption to the communities.

Proposing an amendment to the motion, SDLP Councillor Declan Norris requested that the council write to the Permanent Secretary for the Department to get an update on the final phase of the A6 bringing the dual carriageway from the new roundabout at Drumahoe to the Maydown roundabout.

Sinn Féin councillor Alex Duffy.Sinn Féin councillor Alex Duffy.
Sinn Féin councillor Alex Duffy.

Colr. Norris expressed his concern over the delays in the completion of the A6 dual carriageway project. “This has been going on for so long,” he stated. “It’s years ago since we talked about the A6 and now we finally are after all this time we’re getting a completion date of possibly 10 weeks away.”

Highlighting the potential issues that could arise if the final phase of the project is not completed, he said: “I believe what’s going to happen is that without the final phase, Altnagelvin and Dumahoe are going to become the new Dungiven,” he warned. “It’s going to be a bottleneck for all the lorries and cars coming into town and then what will happen is the short-cut will be used through Eglinton all sorts of country roads leading to wherever they’re going, and you’ll get lorries and cars going on these roads that shouldn’t be on them.”

The SDLP councillor also addressed the issue of funding for the final phase of the project. “The last information we got through our MLA and from the DFI, is that this final phase is going to cost £200 million for a seven kilometre bit of road but they haven’t got the funding yet,” he said.

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Alliance Councillor Philip McKinney expressed full support for the motion and the amendment before addressing the issue of heavy traffic on the Eglinton – Tamnaherin Road.

A map of the A6.A map of the A6.
A map of the A6.

“When I first got elected myself and Colr Ferguson contacted the haulage companies to try and force them to go down into the city by a different route, which would have been through Drumahoe and to be quite honest we got dog’s abuse,” he said.

Stressing the importance of finding funding for the completion of the A6 dual carriageway project, he added, “It is important we continue from Drumahoe into Maydown and we do need to sort out the A2 from Maydown through to Caw because there are accidents there every single month.”

PBP Councillor Maeve O’Neill spoke about the long-awaited completion of the A6 dual carriageway project and the difficulties that have arisen, claiming: “It’s been mentioned about the Mobouy dump holding up the final phase of the A6 and some of the difficulties around this are the fact that in the original environmental impact assessment for that phase of the A6 they managed to miss almost 2 million tonnes of illegally dumped waste within their environmental impact assessment.”

“We need to call on the DfI to actually attend the stakeholder meetings and they need to give guarantees that a new environmental impact assessment and a habitat assessment will be done if they’re going to actually carry out work on the final phase of the A6,” she emphasised.

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly referred to a response from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

“DfI wrote back to MLA Sinead McLaughlin earlier this month detailing that the department is working closely with the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency and other stakeholders to ensure that the final scheme designed fully takes account of the impact of the waste site,” he stated.

Colr. Reilly went on to explain that the integrated report for the project is progressing well and that any remediation proposal will take into account all respective parties’ requirements, including those relating to the A6 dualling. “We do need to see the DfI deliver the entire A6 scheme,” he added.

The SDLP Councillor also echoed the concerns expressed by Councillor Norris and others about the potential for the project to become a bottleneck if the final phase is not completed.

“The way it is at the moment, you’re just transferring the bottleneck from Dungiven to Drumahoe and that’s not going to be of any significant use for people who live in Drumahoe and it’s certainly it’s not going to be the scheme as it was fully intended when the money was committed to the A6 project back a number of years ago.”

The substantive motion passed unanimously.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter