Northern Ireland’s biggest ever roads project has left the taxpayer with a £54,000 legal bill.
The bill, which has amounted in response to legal challenges to the A5 dual carriageway upgrade, comes on top of £48m spent on consultants’ fees and £5.2m on surveys.
A campaign group opposed to the scheme, the Alternative A5 Alliance, has launched a second legal challenge to the project, which is expected to begin late next year at a total cost of £870 million.
In response to a question tabled by Lagan Valley UUP MLA Jenny Palmer, Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said: “Since May 2016 invoices for legal fees associated with the A5 project have amounted to £27,450 and it is estimated that a similar amount is due to be paid but is not yet invoiced.
“These costs are necessary to allow the department to robustly defend its position at the scheme’s Public Inquiry, which is ongoing, as well as the imminent hearing in relation to the judicial review application.”
The cost of the project has hit over £70million – despite being stalled for nine years.
Local residents have voiced ‘a significant number of objections’ to the scheme, challenges in many areas, including environmental and wildlife habitat concerns, the stopping of private access roads land vesting, and the direction of the road itself.