Legal challenge over A5 upgrade

Published Wednesday, 19 September 2012
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A last ditch legal challenge has begun to stop two new sections of the A5 road between Aughnacloy, in Co Tyrone, and Londonderry from being upgraded.

Legal challenge over A5 upgrade
Around 2,000 complaints have been lodged about the upgrade of the A5. (© UTV)

The Department for Regional Development had planned to start work on the project soon - but the court action means that has had to be postponed.

The new dual carriageway is due to be built on some of the most fertile land in Northern Ireland, which has provided farmers with their livelihoods for generations.

Yet land owners are felling trees in these fields to sell as firewood, stripping the last assets from the land before it is taken from them.

So far, all protests have failed, but legal action against the building of the road is their final glimmer of hope.

In the last few days, land owners affected received vesting orders telling them that their land - through which the new road will run - is now in the possession of the Road Service.

But even before those letters could be delivered, the legal challenge had started.

If completed, the road will come within eight feet of Eddie Harvey's Newtownstewart home, where he and his wife raised their four children - all of whom have since passed away.

"'They are going to block my light and everything out, not to talk about the spray and dirt that's coming off this motorway you know," said Mr Harvey.

"What can we do about it, we can't do anything about it. It's just, it seems that it's going to go on."

A multi-million pound boost for the rejuvenation of two sections of the A5 - including a 15km stretch between Londonderry and Strabane and around 22km from Omagh to Ballygawley - was announced by the Finance Minister earlier this year.

The road was due to be jointly funded by the Irish government but Sammy Wilson revealed a £500m investment package in roads across Northern Ireland.

It is hoped the redevelopment will reduce journey times to the west but a campaign group set up to block the A5 from going ahead say the upgrade will wreck homes and if the judicial review fails, they are willing to take their battle to the European Parliament.

But there are others who believe the improved road will boost employment and bring much-needed investment to the Omagh area.

"It's absolutely essential nowadays that the proper infrastructure is in place," said William Young from the South West College.

"It's all about down the line industry coming to this part of the region."

The project is expected to take up to two and a half years to complete, and could create up to 800 jobs during its construction.

But those depend on a high court decision, for which a date is yet to be set.

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Realist in England wrote (786 days ago):
Real Realist - you make a valid point. I used to live in the west and travel to Belfast from time to time on a variety of buses, changing in Sligo and Enniskillen. I guess the issue should first be to ensure adequate links to Dublin and then between other major cities. The Galway/Mayo/Sligo - Belfast route could be improved in parts, especially around you in the Leitrim/Fermanagh area, I agree. On the other hand, with limited funds, it is not as important on a national scale as facilitating ease of access from Derry and north Donegal to Dublin (especially when that comes with the added benefit of improving links from Donegal to Belfast through Omagh). The number of cars and lorries expected to use the routes must, unfortunately at times, guide the choice of priorities.
Real Realist in NI wrote (796 days ago):
so the rest of the country was given state of the art roads over the last 20 years well Realist in England were are these state of the art roads in Fermanagh? youve been away 20 years too long to really know what happening in NI. The likes of roads approaching Enniskillen needs a bye pass pronto not in 10 or 20 years time, theres no railway in Fermanagh so the road is the only means of travel and sometimes traffic is so bad the A4 route into Enniskillen is like a car park
Realist in England wrote (797 days ago):
John, I'm sorry but I do not fully understand your comment but I do take issue with your claim that I do not know what I am talking about. I would not expect compensation to be as high in most of Ulster (or most of Connacht, Munster or Leinster) as it is in England. The obvious reason is that, like for like, land tends to be cheaper in Ireland. Whilst I stand by my use of 'adequate', I could have said 'fair'. The road improvements are not all in Tyrone as far as I know, but that would be the bit I would use most as my mummy lives in northern Donegal and that is the shortest route from Dublin. In terms of time and comfort, the N2/A5 route can be so bad that I have chosen on occasion to drive to Belfast and then right across Ulster simply to avoid it. The M1, together with major improvements on the road from Dundalk to up past Newry have made that route more attractive, if somewhat longer, from Dublin airport. The Free State didn't only have the M1 built over the past decade or so, however. We now have something approaching a modern motorway network together with new and improved N roads all over the place. Even less economically important places like Donegal have some amazing N roads. Those roads do not directly connect us to the capital, however. We have reasonable roads to Belfast (via Derry), although they could be improved too. One of the two available routes involves going through Omagh, so the A5 improvements could also help people get to and from Belfast too. Whatever your political viewpoint, Dublin is the major city on the island. Many businesses in Tyrone, Derry, Donegal, etc. will all need to send people down to the capital from time to time. Produce coming into Ireland doesn't all arrive in Larne or Belfast - the ports in county Dublin bring stuff into Ireland for distribution across the country, including the north west. Likewise Rosslare and Cork, with their links to the mainland Europe and beyond. If bad roads cost hauliers more in time and petrol, then that is ultimately going to reflect in higher prices for imported goods from Britain and elsewhere. Some of your Tyrone farmers may even want to transport or export their produce using the road. A relatively small number of farmers will be adversely affected but all can potentially benefit from the improved transport links. This isn't just a case of selfish drivers wanting ease of access to and from the capital - investment in road infrastructure brings long-term economic benefits as well as short term benefits in terms of a surge in employment due to building the roads. Roads cost money but a lot of that is returned in income tax, additional spending in the local economy, etc. Road infrastructure is probably even more important to Ireland than elsewhere as our rail network is truly abysmal and the only realistic option for moving freight around the country is by road. I suggest that you open your mind and look at the bigger picture before unfairly accusing others of being in some way uninformed.
John in Omagh wrote (797 days ago):
Mr Realist in England. Obviously you are a blow into mainland UK when you take an interest. Compensation rates are not at UK level not even England were you live. The judicial review will show how BIG BROTHER thought that he could walk over the small person with flawed thoughts for UK and EUropean law. IN 2002 all was agreed for an upgrade with farmers land agreed etc so do a wee bit of research before commenting on something which will destroy something which provides about 70% of employment in Tyrone I.e Agriculture
Realist in England wrote (797 days ago):
This all happened before with other roads that we now take for granted. We get angry when we face traffic jams but just imagine what the place would be like if we didn't have our major intercity roads. Towns and villages would become crammed with cars and lorries, negatively affecting local people as well as slowing down those who want to commute between cities. Now stop imagining - the scenario I painted is reality along the length of the A5/N2. Whereas the rest of the country was given state of the art roads over the past 20 years, the north west was left behind. I assume that the compensation is adequate and people could take it and move if they wanted to. Things like this are bitterly sad for some individuals but their complaints won't even make a footnote in the history books. The road is needed to provide Derry and Letterkenny with something approaching the kind of links to Dublin that were provided for all of our other large towns and cities. The greater good must prevail.
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