A5 ruling: “They should not be left in any doubt about what may or may not occur…”

The Northern Ireland Department for Regional Development have 7 days to appeal the Belfast High Court ruling issued today quashing the decision to go ahead with the controversial A5 £330m dual carriageway project.  As the BBC reports

Following the verdict, lawyers for the department sought to have the court order put on hold.

They wanted time to meet a requirement to carry out an appropriate assessment required under the directive.

But Mr Justice Stephens refused, citing the potential for a public inquiry and potential scope for legal confusion.

“The appropriate course in the exercise of my discretion is for the orders to be quashed,” he confirmed.

However, acknowledging the potential for an appeal of his decision in the case, the judge agreed to a more limited delay.

“The applicants are entitled to plan their own businesses and their own lives,” he said.

“They should not be left in any doubt about what may or may not occur in circumstances such as these where the department has acted unlawfully in breach of a habitats directive.

“I’m prepared to grant a stay until 12 noon on April 15 2013.”

In his response, the NI Regional Development Minister, the UUP’s Danny Kennedy, said

“Today’s ruling is disappointing but my key priority now is to consider the merits of appealing and to find a resolution to this situation as quickly as possible.

“I also intend to discuss this with Executive colleagues on Thursday.”