A5 Western Transport Corridor - overview

The A5 Western Transport Corridor is one of five key transport corridors identified in the Regional Transportation Strategy for Northern Ireland. Its improvement represents a significant link in plans to improve strategic links between the urban centres of Londonderry, Strabane, Omagh and Aughnacloy and improves connections to the North West.

A5WTC Route Plan

Dedicated scheme website

Information relating to the development of the A5 Western Transport Corridor is updated regularly on the dedicated scheme website:

A5 WTC draft Orders consultation

On Thursday 11 February 2016 DRD Minister Michelle McIlveen announced the imminent start of consultations by the Department, (Press Release on Public Record Office website), on new draft Statutory Orders and a new Environmental Statement for the A5 Western Transport Corridor dual carriageway scheme.

The documents consulted on were:

  • a new environmental statement
  • a new draft Direction Order for the length between Newbuildings and Ballygawley
  • three new draft Vesting Orders for the scheme between Newbuildings and Ballygawley
  • a new Stopping-up of Private Accesses Order

These documents were prepared to reflect changes arising out of the original Public Inquiry process in 2011 and to take account of any interim changes in legislation and design standards. These documents can be viewed on the scheme website:

Scheme updates

►Preferred corridor and route options for the 85 kilometre dual carriageway scheme between New Buildings and Aughnacloy carried out between 2007 and 2010.

►Draft Vesting and Direction Orders and an environmental statement for the scheme published in November 2010 for the scheme.

►Due to reduced funding availability at the time, the Northern Ireland Executive directed in February 2012 that the works be split into discrete sections and delivered in a phased approach.

►Notice of intention to make a Direction Order and notice of intention to make a Vesting Order published in August 2012 for Phase 1 of the scheme (from New Buildings to North of Strabane together with south of Omagh to Ballygawley).

►A Legal challenge to the Making of the Orders was heard in the High Court between late 2012 and early 2013. The judge found against the Department on one count and ruled that an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive should have been carried out in respect of the River Foyle and River Finn Special Areas of Conservation. As such, the legal Orders were quashed. The Department did not appeal the ruling.

►To comply with the requirements of the Habitats Directive, four draft reports to inform an appropriate assessment for designated environmentally sensitive sites (nine in total) were published for consultation during 2014.

►In February 2016 the then Department for Regional Development (now DfI) published for consultation the Notice of Intention to Make Vesting Orders (draft Vesting Orders) for a number of phases of the scheme as follows:

  • Phase 1A - New Buildings to north of Strabane;
  • Phase 1B - south of Omagh to Ballygawley; and
  • Phase 2 - north of Strabane to south of Omagh.

►The Notice of Intention to Make a Direction Order (i.e. draft Direction Order) for the length between New Buildings and Ballygawley and a new Environmental Statement (ES) covering the full extent of the scheme between New Buildings and Aughnacloy were also published during that time. The ensuing consultation periods extended to 2 June 2016.

►A Public Inquiry administered by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) commenced on 4 October 2016 and concluded on 14 December 2016. The PAC report into the inquiry was received by the Department on 25 May 2017 and its recommendations are being considered in detail before making a decision, on whether to proceed with the scheme and make the necessary statutory Orders.

►A second consultation in relation to the Habitats Directive was carried out in April 2017 and following feedback received the Department is now carrying out a further consultation during the period 22 August 2017 until 2 October 2017.

►The Reports of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment (RIAA), which have been the subject of consultation with statutory bodies, other interested parties and the general public have been updated in light of all consultation responses received, any changes in circumstances, the public inquiry process and any additional information available to the Department. 

►The decision to proceed with the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme (A5WTC), was announced on 28 November 2017.  On the same date, the Direction Order was made for the length of the scheme between New Buildings and Ballygawley together with making the Vesting Order for Phase 1a between New Buildings and north of Strabane.  This first section of the A5WTC scheme to be constructed is approximately 15 kilometres in length with works expected to start early 2018.

►Copies of the Notice of Intention to Proceed, Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) report and the Department’s Statement can be viewed online at the links below.

►The final versions of the RIAA’s, together with a Habitats Regulations Assessment Summary Report that set out an assessment of those impacts and all other documents relating to the project that include the Direction / Vesting Order maps can be viewed at: http://www.a5wtc.com/

►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.

Further Environmental Consultation - 2019

The Department has updated the Environmental Statement (ES 2016) with an Environmental Statement Addendum (ESA 2019) and accompanying Non-Technical Summary (NTS Rev’B) together with the Extraction Impact Report on Quarrying in the Townland of Ulbalreagh.  These environmental reports published for consultation during the period 26 March 2019 to 17 May 2019 should be read in conjunction with the ES 2016 as they provide additional information to update the ES 2016.

In addition, the Reports of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment (RIAA), which have been the subject of previous consultations during 2014 and 2017 have also been updated for consultation during the same period 26 March 2019 to 17 May 2019.

At the end of the consultation period the Department will give careful consideration to all representations made.

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 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.

All the aforementioned reports and notices are available to view or download on the project website - A5 WTC Website.

 

Last updated: March 2019

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