Northern Ireland news

Freight chiefs fear further delays to A5 upgrade

Haulage chief Seamus Leheny has warned of further delays in the controversial A5 road upgrade
Connla Young

FREIGHT operators have expressed fears about further delays to the planned A5 road upgrade.

Seamus Leheny has said the stalled 55-mile scheme between Derry and the border at Aughnacloy may be further put back due to the lack of ministers at Stormont and planned legal action.

The Freight Transport Association policy manager said on Twitter yesterday: “Hearing there's bad news this week re the A5 upgrade.

“Planned work will not be able to commence as planned due to no devolved minister approval and subsequent legal challenges.”

A planned legal challenge to the upgrade is due to be heard next month.

It comes after a court ruled earlier this year that senior civil servants should not have approved the planned £240 million Arc21 waste incinerator on the outskirts of north Belfast in the absence of the Stormont executive.

The upgraded road will form part of a cross-border link between Donegal, Derry and Dublin.

Work was due to begin earlier this year on the first phase - a nine-mile stretch between New Buildings outside Derry and Strabane in Co Tyrone - but was put on hold because of a court challenge.

A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure last night said it is considering its approach ahead of the legal case.

“Construction work on the A5 Executive Flagship project, between New Buildings and north of Strabane, was due to commence in early 2018 with a view to completion in 2020,” he said.

“Unfortunately the decision to proceed is now subject to a legal challenge.

“The department is considering the approach to be taken on this litigation, which is expected to be heard in court in early September.”

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