DCSIMG

Peer questions £800K spent on land for stalled A5 road

A5 graphic

A5 graphic

MICHAEL MCGLADE

Lord Morrow, who is an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone said it must be made clear how much land the Department for Regional Development now owns.

Last week, the Department revealed that a total of £795,566 in 90% advance payments were made to a small number of landowners for the purchase of land in relation to the A5 scheme and said they were now engaging “with its legal advisors regarding this complex matter”.

On Wednesday, Lord Morrow said questions remained over the spend.

“It would be useful if Minister Kennedy could state exactly what value the public has accrued as a result of this expenditure. How much additional land does the public, through the Department, now own?

“I hope Minister Kennedy has not allowed his officials to spend close to £1million yet not buy a single blade of grass.”

He added: “Not only has DRD this expenditure but it must also ensure that land vested on 11th September 2012 is returned to its original owners in proper condition. This will mean removal newly erected fences and boundaries restored. Landowners must also be adequately compensated for the loss of earnings they experienced when they had no access to their land.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has said the unspent money from the controversial road project now be spent on a new children’s hospital for Northern Ireland.

“The A5 project was an Executive initiative using Executive funds and since it is no longer progressing in the short term there is a requirement to re-allocate the funds,” said the North Antrim assembly member.

“The building of a new Children’s Hospital has been a requirement for many years but has always been held back for the lack of capital resources. The Health Minister has in the past indicated that he requires some £200 million for this project and I would urge Minister Poots to make a bid for this money as soon as possible. Indeed I am disappointed that he has not already done so.

“The need to address competing priorities is a challenge for the Executive but initiation of this project would show that there is a least an intention to deliver by Doing what’s right for Northern Ireland,” he added.

 

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