‘Make Derry road a priority’

DRD Minister Danny Kennedy has been urged to prioritise the upgrading of the main A6 Derry to Belfast road.
DRD Minister Danny Kennedy has been urged to prioritise the upgrading of the main A6 Derry to Belfast road.

Derry business chiefs have urged a Stormont Minister to push ahead with the upgrade of the A6 road between the city and Belfast.

The A6 scheme will see a phased dual carriageway built between the cities, reducing travel times.

A public inquiry into the first phase - the dualling of the 25 mile stretch between Derry and Dungiven and a bypass in the town - was held last year.

Its report was due to be submitted to the government by the start of this month.

Under current plans, the bypass is expected to be started within the next two years and the £390m Derry to Dungiven dualling project started after 2015.

This week, Derry’s Chamber of Commerce held face-to-face talks with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, during which its President Philip Gilliland gave him the “hard sell” about upgrading both the A6 to Belfast and the A5 to Dublin.

“Mr. Kennedy is in no doubt the Chamber wants maximum progress on both routes as an urgent priority,” said Mr. Gilliland.

“We fully understand the minister’s position that he is prevented by a court decision from proceeding with the A5 scheme at this time. The road is not cancelled - it is paused pending successful completion of the Habitats Directive assessment.

“The Chamber is unhappy about this but we realise this does not reflect any wish by the minister to back away from the Executive’s commitment to the A5.”

Mr. Gilliland said it was important to focus on the most intelligent use of the A5 money in this ‘pause’ period.

“It is essential that the funds that were allocated to the A5 are now made available to the North West for other infrastructure improvement, given that the A5 money cannot be spent in this financial year and cannot be held over into a future financial year under the public spending rules agreed between Stormont and London.

“It is, therefore, a ‘no brainer’ that the funds should be spent on improving the A6.”

“We urge the Executive to give its backing for this and we call on all local politicians to support this.”