Northern Ireland

A5 consultant advice to be reviewed says Danny Kennedy

Image caption Millions of pounds have already been spent on the A5 project

The regional development minister has ordered an independent review of the advice his department received from a consultant on the A5 road project.

The dualling scheme - which could cost up to £500m - was to be part of a route linking Dublin and the north west.

It stalled in 2013 when the High Court ruled the department should have carried out a full assessment of the scheme under the EU Habitats Directive.

Danny Kennedy was asked who advised such an assessment was not required.

The query was made by Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan.

The minister, Mr Kennedy, said a "screening exercise" was carried out by Mouchel, the infrastructure firm that is the main consultant on the project.

He said he had asked for "an independent review of the project consultant's work in respect of the completion of the appropriate assessment process".

Mr Kennedy added that this would look at the "adequacy" of the screening work carried out by Mouchel.

The project has already cost almost £60m, although it is now not clear when construction work will start.

An assessment is being carried out under the Habitats Directive and will be put out to consultation later this year.

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