Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has today reaffirmed her commitment to progressing the A5 Western Transport Corridor Scheme as she publishes the report on the proceedings of the inquiry from the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) into the scheme.
The Department’s response to the recommendations made by the PAC has also been published.
Minister Mallon said:
“The A5 is an absolute priority for me as a strategic road. It will open up connectivity in the North West and the rest of our island, ensure safer travel for communities and deliver opportunities for our local economy. I know this project has been long awaited and I am determined as Minister to see it progress through the statutory process as quickly as possible, ensuring the project is delivered properly for citizens and our wider environment.
Commenting on the Interim PAC report, the Minister said:
“I would like to thank the Commissioner for the efficient manner in which he held the Inquiry over the course of seven days in February and March 2020. The Inquiry dealt with a number of key themes and issues relating to the Environmental Statement Addendum which had been published by the Department in 2019. After careful consideration of the PAC Interim Report and having taken legal advice, I have, today, published the Report.
I have accepted the Commissioner’s key recommendation regarding the preparation of and consultation on further documents on the important topics of flood risk and the consideration of alternatives to the proposed scheme. As such, I have asked officials to prepare a further addendum to the Environmental Statement (ESA) for consultation in early autumn. I have also today published the Department’s formal response to all the recommendations made by the PAC and this is in the form of an Interim Departmental Statement.
While I anticipate this approach will lead to the re-opening of the public inquiry, as recommended by the PAC, early next year, it will enable it to consider further public representations made on the two key topics of flood risk and scheme alternatives and prepare its final report. This, in turn, will allow a decision on the next steps for this important transformative scheme.
Further consultation will be undertaken under the Habitats Regulations of a number of Reports of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment relating to the likely impacts of the A5 scheme upon Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites.
I would once again re-iterate my commitment to the A5WTC flagship project, which is of significant strategic importance to the North West region and our wider island, helping to tackle regional imbalance, improving the economy, job prospects and prosperity, connecting communities and improving road safety.”
The PAC Interim Report and Interim Departmental Statement on the A5 Western Transport Corridor (A5WTC) Dual Carriageway scheme are available on the following link:
Notes to editors:
- Further information on the background to the A5 Western Transport Scheme is available on the Department’s website at: A5 Western Transport Corridor Overview
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