Challenge to A5 road between Derry and Ballygawley costs public £50k in legal fees
A CHALLENGE to the A5 road project between Derry and Ballygawley has cost taxpayers around £50,000 in legal fees since May.
A campaign group opposed to the scheme, the Alternative A5 Alliance, has launched a second legal challenge to the project, which is expected to begin late next year at a total cost of £870 million.
In 2013, the group won a judicial review after the court ruled an environment impact assessment had not been carried out properly.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said: "Since May 2016 invoices for legal fees associated with the A5 project have amounted to £27,450 and it is estimated that a similar amount is due to be paid but is not yet invoiced.
"These costs are necessary to allow the department to robustly defend its position at the scheme's Public Inquiry, which is ongoing, as well as the imminent hearing in relation to the judicial review application."
The figure was released in response to an Assembly question from Lagan Valley UUP MLA Jenny Palmer, who said: "At a time when road users are being told that basic road maintenance is being delayed or reduced, it is scandalous that so much is being wasted.
"I am calling on the minister to seriously explore other, less legally tumultuous alternatives to deliver the A5. I hope that he will see sense and not pit the public purse against the people any further."