Almost £3m of public money spent on stalled A5 project this year
THE stalled A5 road project between Derry and Aughnacloy has cost taxpayers almost £3 million this year, despite work not expected to begin until late 2017.
The amount has been spent on design work and on the ongoing public inquiry.
In November, the High Court rejected claims by campaigners objecting to the project that an ongoing public inquiry into the requirement for the road was flawed.
The figure was revealed by Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard in response to an Assembly question from SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan.
Mr Hazzard said: "The expenditure in the current financial year scheme amounted to £2.8m.
"These costs are mainly associated with the project consultant’s on-going design work as well as their preparation for and participation in the public inquiry which is scheduled to finish in mid December 2016."
A campaign group opposed to the scheme, the Alternative A5 Alliance, has opposed the new road, which is expected to begin late next year at a total cost of £870m subject to the outcome of the public inquiry.
SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan said that people are "impatient" to see the project delivered.
He said: "This response shows that of the £13m allocated to the A5 this year only a fraction has been spent. The remaining £10m due to be spent on the A5 cannot be sent back to the department to be allocated elsewhere.
"Every penny due to this road must be spent on this road and as such the leftover funds must not be used in place of fresh funding next year.
"Its importance goes beyond the economic benefits of the upgrade. The truth is that people are dying on this road. We must see a detailed funding plan and a timeframe for final completion."