Executive spends £600,000 on half acre of land for access road

An artist's impression of the new Department of Agriculture headquarters at Ballykelly

An artist's impression of the new Department of Agriculture headquarters at Ballykelly

The UUP has strongly criticised the Department of Agriculture for paying £600,000 on land for a new access road to their new, relocated headquarters in Co Londonderry.

Announced in 2012 by the previous agriculture minister, Michelle O’Neill, the department are to build a state-of-the art new headquarters at the site of the former Shackleton army barracks in Ballykelly. However, there is currently only one access point to the site and, with hundreds of civil servants set to be based in Ballykelly in the coming years, a new access road to ease congestion on the main road between Londonderry and Coleraine is to be built.

UUP MLA Harold McKee said the money paid for the land, £600,000 for half an acre, “will shock many members of the public”.

Mr McKee said: “It does raise serious questions about the way business has been conducted. The value for money aspect for the public purse has already been questioned given that the final decision to move DAERA HQ was made by ministerial direction. I don’t think this latest revelation will do anything to inspire confidence in the Executive.”