Audio Update – Go ahead given for A5 upgrade

The A5 upgrade is to go ahead.

The North's Department for Infrastructure today confirmed its decision to proceed with the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme, with the section between New Buildings and north of Strabane ready to start in early 2018.

They say construction will start as soon as possible.

West Tyrone MP Barry Mc Elduff says this was expected, but is very welcome news........

 

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Department statement in full -

Construction on the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme to begin early 2018 

The Department for Infrastructure today announced its Decision to Proceed with the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme, with construction of the section between New Buildings and north of Strabane ready to start in early 2018.

Commenting on the progression of the scheme, the Department’s Permanent Secretary Peter May said: “This decision concurs with the Planning Appeals Commission recommendation that the scheme should proceed in the wider public interest.  Before giving approval for the scheme to proceed, careful consideration was given to the PAC Report and the Department’s assessment of the environmental impacts of the scheme.  In proceeding with the scheme, the Department commits to carrying out the necessary actions to implement the PAC recommendations and mitigation measures as described in the Department’s Statement and the Environmental Statement.  Construction will start as soon as possible.”

Mr May continued: “The decision to proceed takes account of the clear direction from the previous Executive that this Flagship project should commence as soon as possible. The outgoing Infrastructure Minister was also clear that the A5WTC scheme was a key priority. This is a strategically important project for the region and one which will benefit the economy as a whole, as well as improving journey times and road safety for the thousands of daily users of this route. 

“In the current economic climate, this announcement of Phase 1a of the scheme - a 15 kilometre stretch of new dual carriageway from New Buildings to north of Strabane - starting in early 2018 will be welcome news for the construction industry. The scheme should lead to an increase in demand for local suppliers of construction materials, as well as a boost to commercial trade in the surrounding area. There will also be a considerable focus on social sustainability with the construction contract incorporating targeted recruitment and training opportunities for both young and long-term unemployed people.  Phase 1a has an estimated cost of £150million to deliver.  Under the Fresh Start Agreement the Irish Government has agreed to contribute £75million over three years.”  

The A5 Western Transport Corridor dual carriageway scheme is an Executive flagship project which will provide 85 kilometres of dual carriageway commencing just south of Londonderry at New Buildings, bypassing Strabane, Newtownstewart, Omagh, Ballygawley and Aughnacloy before terminating at the existing A5 just south of Aughnacloy.  Further phases of the scheme will be constructed on confirmation of funding, while Phase 3 (between Ballygawley and the border at Aughnacloy) remains on hold pending clarification from the Irish Government on its proposals for the adjoining N2.    

It is one of five key transport corridors in the region and the proposed upgrade will improve links between urban centres in the west and provide a strategic link with international gateways.

In order to discharge its obligation under the Habitats Regulations the Department commissioned the preparation of a number of Reports of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment relating to the likely impacts of the A5WTC upon Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites. The reports have been the subject of consultation with statutory bodies, other interested parties and the general public and have been updated in light of all consultation responses received, any changes in circumstances, the public inquiry process and any additional information available to the Department.  The final versions of these reports, together with a Habitats Regulations Assessment Summary Report, set out an assessment of those impacts.

Accordingly, in light of the assessment undertaken and the information presented within the Reports of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment, the Habitats Regulations Assessment Summary Report and the Environmental Statement, the Department (as the competent authority)  is satisfied, taking account of the proposed mitigation measures, that the construction and operation of the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme would not, by itself or in combination with other known plans or projects, adversely affect the integrity of the River Foyle & Tributaries SAC, the Owenkillew River SAC, the River Finn SAC, the Tully Bog SAC, the Lough Foyle SPA, the Lough Swilly SPA, the Lough Neagh & Lough Beg SPA, the Lough Foyle Ramsar Site or the Lough Neagh & Lough Beg Ramsar Site, in view of their conservation objectives.

The Department will now publish the formal Notice of Intention to Proceed, make available to the public the PAC Report and the Department’s Statement, make the Direction Order for the length of the scheme between New Buildings and Ballygawley, and make the Vesting Order for Phase 1a between New Buildings and north of Strabane.

 

An electronic version of the Departmental Statement and the PAC Report may be viewed at https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications. Electronic versions of all other documents relating to the project, may be viewed at http://www.a5wtc.com/