A6 decision ‘good news for commuters’

Environmentalist Chris Murphy when he won the first stage in his legal action over the new A6 dual carriageway being built near Seamus Heaney's old home.
Thursday 24th November 2016
 / Press Eye

Environmentalist Chris Murphy when he won the first stage in his legal action over the new A6 dual carriageway being built near Seamus Heaney's old home. Thursday 24th November 2016 / Press Eye

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The Department for Infrastructure has said Tuesday’s court decision allowing the Toome to Castledawson dual carriageway to go ahead will boost the construction industry.

If there are no further delays to the project the £160m upgrade of the A6 Belfast to Londonderry route is expected to be completed in four years.

In a statement following the High Court ruling on Tuesday, a DfI spokesperson said: “Today’s decision means 18,000 road users and the local community are set to directly benefit as the new dual carriageway will reduce journey times and improve road safety.

“The scheme is predicted to result in a saving of almost 600 collisions over its 60-year economic life. The ruling has also recognised the care and attention we take, with the statutory environmental bodies, to preserve, protect and develop environmentally sensitive areas under consideration for road development.

“The local construction industry will also see a considerable benefit with this £160m scheme delivering local jobs and investment.”

The spokesperson said the department is committed to introducing ‘Buy Social’ clauses into this contract which will generate new entrant trainee employment in the form of apprenticeships and graduate jobs.

“The works will specifically create between 15-20 new paid employment and training opportunities over the construction period,” she continued.

“Preliminary works on the project have continued to be progressed in accordance with the environmental commitments given and the objective is to complete the scheme in 2021. It is the Department’s intention to commence major construction works on the scheme as soon as possible.”

The conservationist who successfully applied for a judicial review, Chris Murphy said he will lodge an appeal and seek an injunction to “prevent further damage to the priceless wetlands”.

Mr Murphy had challenged the Department for Infrastructure on their chosen route for the bypass extension due to the damage it would cause to precious wetlands as well as the heightened cost which is almost five times the amount originally quoted by the department.

“The wetlands, which are marked as one of Northern Ireland’s sixteen Special Protected Areas, are important areas for breeding and migrating birds, hosting rare breeds like the Whooper Swan who come from Iceland for six months every year,” he said.