Millions 'cut' from A5 budget due to legal challenge

A5 road The DRD committee fears the legal challenge to the A5 road scheme could go on indefinitely

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Ten million pounds a month set aside for the new A5 road between Londonderry and Aughnacloy will have to be returned to Stormont, for as long as delays to the project continue.

Work on the dual carriageway was to begin next month, but has been held up indefinitely by a legal challenge.

The Department for Regional Development said the money would go back into the NI Executive's central budget.

The A5 Alliance is the group behind the legal challenge.

They describe themselves as "a group of ordinary farmers, businessmen and householders".

DRD committee chairman Jimmy Spratt said it was an astonishing development.

"It is something we had not anticipated, £10m a month will go back into the central kitty," he said.

Worrying

"The project was ready to go with anything between 750 and 1,000 jobs created, so the economics of the whole thing is very worrying indeed.

"I hope that at some point in time we can get the money back into the Department of Regional Development."

Mr Spratt added that another £750,000 a month would be added to the £10m in interest because the scheme will not start on time.

"I hope this legal challenge is not a delaying tactic because no-one, not the department, the committee or politicians can do anything about that because the legal challenge has to be decided by the courts."

A spokesperson for Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said it would be inappropriate to comment, given the pending review.

The DRD did say that senior counsel has been instructed by the department to strongly rebut the legal challenge.

The A5 Alliance said it would also be inappropriate for them to comment on the case.

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