Inquiry into A5 upgrade begins with series of meetings along route

The inquiry into one of Northern Ireland’s biggest ever roads schemes has begun with a series of meetings along the route of the A5 upgrade.

The plans to dual the A5 from Aughnacloy to Newbuildings are due to go to full public inquiry next month and have attracted more than 2,400 objections.

The meetings take place in the Mellon Country Inn, Omagh, the Fir Trees Hotel in Strabane and Kelly’s Inn, Ballygawley.

The public inquiry will follow a similar structure, staged at a number of different venues along the 85km route, and is expected to begin in May.

The scheme has come under fire from farmers and environmental groups who warn that land will be lost and communities cut in two, with only eight access points onto the proposed dual carriageway.

They say the road doesn’t carry enough traffic to warrant the £850m outlay, although the Republic is contributing £400m to that and the A8 upgrade. The A5 is is expected to take 20 minutes off the journey from Derry to Dublin.