As the BBC report, the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, the UUP’s Danny Kennedy, has announced that his department will not be appealing the Belfast High Court ruling quashing the decision to go ahead with the controversial A5 £330m dual carriageway project.
A “costly mistake [not appealing] but will not be the end of this project“, according to the “Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone and member of the Regional Development Minister [sic], Declan McAleer”. The chair of the NI Assembly’s Regional Development Committee, the DUP’s Jimmy Spratt, MLA, has said that “Many will question why there was a flaw in the original application process and will rightly expect officials to be held accountable for this failure.” And the SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H Durkan, is already lobbying the money to be re-allocated for improvments to the A6.
Here’s the Ministerial press release in full
The Minister said: “I have considered the very complex legal and procedural matters at length upon receiving detailed legal advice. It is my intention to accept the ruling of Mr Justice Stephens and therefore I have decided not to appeal.
“The Judge took the view that a fuller assessment of the impact of the A5 proposals on the rivers Foyle and Finn Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) should have been carried out. I now intend to have a more comprehensive assessment conducted. When this is completed I will consider the matter further.
“It is important that the outcomes of any new assessment are not pre-judged and therefore I cannot provide any further detail at this time regarding timescales other than to say that there will be substantial delay.
“My officials will seek to engage with landowners to carefully work through the next steps in relation to land issues.
“I am conscious of the impact of delay to this significant roads project on our local construction industry and therefore I will engage with the Executive to see how finance may be best deployed this year to support local jobs.
“Given the delay, it is important that other schemes that may be in a position to be progressed ahead of the A5 are given full consideration by the Executive.
“Therefore I intend to bring forward an Executive paper detailing other options such as moving forward with procurement on other possible schemes.”