Archaeological finds cost taxpayer £17m

Published Tuesday, 03 December 2013
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Removing archaeological items found during road building in Northern Ireland has cost the taxpayer £17m, it has been revealed.

Archaeological finds cost taxpayer £17m
Archaeological finds added millions to the cost of constructing the roads. (© Pacemaker)

In 2007, the Roads Service, which is part of the Department for Regional Development, and a contractor entered into a £224.9m contract for 78 miles of motorway and trunk road.

This included the upgrade of a stretch of the A1 near Newry to dual carriageway, junction improvements at Hillsborough and Banbridge and the rebuilding of the road between Dungannon and Ballygawley to dual carriageway standard.

Under the contract with Amey Lagan Roads, the Roads Service carried the risk that additional costs could be incurred for 'unforeseeable archaeology'.

Following the discovery of extensive archaeological features in Co Down and Tyrone, the contractor argued that all of these were unforeseeable and submitted a claim to the Roads Service for £33.7m, which was contested.

The finds included Bronze Age cooking sites dating back thousands of years as well as the contents of pits and ditches.

After mediation, a settlement of £17.22m was agreed at an extra cost to the taxpayer.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office, which has published a report on the Department for Regional Development's settling of claims, found that £2.6m was spent on work to minimise the risk of discovering historic items during construction.

The report found that the Roads Service acted reasonably in managing the risk.

"Under the contract used, it is not possible to assess how much additional expenditure would have been required on advanced archaeological works to eliminate all archaeological risks and whether this would have been value for money," a statement said.

"Given the inherent 'unforeseeable' nature of the risk, it is unlikely that risk could ever be easily or adequately evaluated and priced.

"As a result, our general conclusion is that the Roads Service acted reasonable in retaining the risk of 'unforeseeable archaeology'."

It also said that lessons from the project have been incorporated by the Roads Service and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in more recent road schemes.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Jos in Ireland wrote (140 days ago):
@ Brian you sound like a real fool with stupid comments comparing ancient history with the modern bigot KKK orangemen of this province or part thereof.,
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (142 days ago):
An Orange march, Brian. Surely dinosaurs fall into the category of archaeological finds?
Ady in Cookstown wrote (142 days ago):
@ Brian...Ancient archaeology will leave a trove of history for all our children . Who knows , in 3,000 years time some-one might dig up wee Willies taser gun or Jamies little Beanie hat,or even perhaps a "Magical" sword used by Orange warriors against the marauding forces of the "Pisni", and then wonder and research what this long forgotten culture got up to during the summer months !
Ludwig O'Neill in Belfast wrote (142 days ago):
At least those artifacts are reflective of our country's true culture. And this has cost a lot less than the fleg has cost in the same period... let's get over this one quietly and be thankful that at least someone is looking out for our 'genuine' heritage and history.
Brian in Belfast wrote (142 days ago):
It would have been cheaper to police an orange march along it.
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