‘Frustration and disappointment’ over A6 delay

Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of Derry's Chamber of Commerce. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of Derry's Chamber of Commerce. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

The head of Derry’s Chamber of Commerce has voiced “frustration and disappointment” over delays to the A6 Derry to Belfast project due to the granting of a judicial review.

A decision was taken on Thursday to grant a Judicial Review on a single issue relating to environmental issues on a stretch of the road which had been prepared for redevelopment.

The Chief Executive of Derry’s Chamber, Sinead McLaughlin, said: “It is extremely disappointing and very frustrating that the improvements to the Derry to Belfast A6 road are to be further delayed, through the decision to grant a Judicial Review.

“Although the section involved – from Castledawson to the Toome by-pass – is not in the North West, this road improvement is vital in order to improve the road connectivity for Derry, Donegal and the rest of our region. It is also vital for Belfast and the whole of Northern Ireland.”

Ms McLaughlin has now called on the Executive to establish “why, once again, there have been problems with the due process relating to a key transport scheme serving the North West”.

“It is essential that lessons are learnt from this experience so that these problems do not recur for each of the key transport schemes needed by the North West,” she said.

Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard said the judgement actually ruled out five of the six grounds for judicial review “and means that the substantive case will be heard on the one issue relating to the habitats directive”.

“While I had hoped that we would be able to proceed with this strategically important project, we will play our part to ensure that as Justice Maguire said, there will be a speedy date for a full hearing and I remain confident that we will be ultimately successful,” the Minister said, adding:

“I am absolutely committed to the construction of the A6, and will now explore our options for commencing construction on the unchallenged section of this project.”

Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann meanwhile said that lessons should have been learned from the issues that arose on the A5 Derry to Aughnacloy project.

Mr McCann said: “Many will be dismayed at the hold up to the A6 upgrade”.

He also claimed the Department for Infrastructure had failed to factor in environmental and wildlife concerns in planning the project.