December 2018

Scheme Update

A5 Western Transport Corridor (A5WTC) Dual Carriageway: Scheme Update

In November 2017 the Department for Infrastructure published its Notice of Intention to Proceed with the A5 dual carriageway scheme (A5WTC). At this same time it made the Direction Order (setting the line of the new road in legislation) for the section between New Buildings and Ballygawley and the Vesting Order purchasing the necessary lands for the construction of Phase 1a (New Buildings to north of Strabane).

A legal challenge to the Department’s Decision was submitted by the Alternative A5 Alliance (AA5A) on 22 December 2017.

Having given careful consideration to recent High Court decisions as well as the provisions of the recently enacted NI (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018, the Department decided that it was not in the public interest to continue defending the legal challenge brought about by the AA5A.  Consequently at a Court hearing on the 15 November 2018, the Department invited the Court to quash the above mentioned Orders and this took effect from Friday 16 November 2018. 

What this means in practice is that, in terms of process, the Department moves back to a point in time just before its decision to proceed with the scheme in November 2017 and, as a result, the Direction and Vesting Orders for the scheme are no longer in force. For landowners in Phase 1a, the lands that had been vested by the Department in January 2018 are therefore now back in their ownership with effect from 16 November 2018. 

As a flagship project of the Northern Ireland Executive, a decision on the implementation of the new dual carriageway remains a priority for the Department and it will now carry out the necessary work to enable a fresh decision on the scheme to be taken during 2019. This work is likely to include the publication of an addendum to the existing Environmental Statement followed by a six-week public consultation process.  At the end of that period the Department will consider all representations made on the content of the addendum.

At the point where a decision is ready to be made and in the continued absence of ministers, the Department will consider whether to issue a decision taking account of the provisions of the above mentioned NI (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 and the associated guidance issued by the Secretary of State.  At that time, consideration will also be given to making a new Direction Order (New Buildings to Ballygawley) and a Vesting Order for the lands previously vested for construction of Phase 1a.

Subject to these considerations and any further issues that emerge, construction works on Phase 1a could commence on site in late 2019.