History of the project

2007

17 July

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

The Council noted the Irish Government’s intention to make available a contribution of £400m/€580m to help fund major roads programmes providing dual carriageway standard on routes within Northern Ireland serving the North West Gateway and on the eastern seaboard corridor from Belfast to Larne.

The Northern Ireland Executive confirmed its acceptance, in principle, to taking forward these two major road projects.

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November

The Department appointed consultants, Mouchel Consulting, from its framework contract to take forward the A5 WTC dualling project. Mouchel were supported by cost consultants, Chandler KBS, as well as procurement experts, Rowsell Wright

2008

7 February

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

The Council endorsed the progress made, including agreement on a management structure to take forward the decisions on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) road projects

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28 April

A5WTC.com goes live

28/29 April & 8/9 May

Series of Exhibitions along the route, between Aughnacloy and Newbuildings, showing the Study Area being considered for the route of the A5 dual carriageway

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28 September

Preliminary Options Report (Scheme Assessment Report 1 (SAR1)) published

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10 November

Preferred Corridor announced

2009

23 January

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

The Council noted a report on key developments in the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) ... and welcomed the mutually beneficial co-operation taken forward at these meetings including:

the good progress on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) projects with the first key milestones being achieved ahead of target in Autumn 2008.

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17/18 & 24/25 February

Series of Consultations along the route, between Aughnacloy and Newbuildings, showing the Route Options being considered for the route of the A5 dual carriageway

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February

The selected procurement process was to adopt an ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ (ECI) approach with contractors appointed earlier in the process than typically would be the case. This brought the contractor procurement phase of the project ahead of the statutory procedures process thus removing about 9 months from the overall project delivery timeframe. It also allowed the contractors to provide valuable input to the design and to provide advice and costs on construction-related issues.

The advertisement for these contracts was placed in February 2009. The project is to be carried out as three similarly sized, but separate, tenders. To assist delivery the project was split into three sections earlier in the design stage and it was decided to maintain this model for the contractor’s design/advice (Phase 1) and construction (Phase 2) stages. Contractors were only allowed to tender for two of these.

6 July

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

The Council welcomed the good progress on the A5 (Aughnacloy to the North West) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) road projects and noted that an important milestone, confirmation of the preferred routes, is expected to be announced shortly. They, therefore, agreed that payment of €9m will be made by the Minister for Transport to the NI Consolidated Fund before the end of 2009, in accordance with an agreed payments procedure. The Council agreed to consider a further progress report at the next NSMC Plenary.

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21 July

Preferred Route announced

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24 July

Preferred Options Report (Scheme Assessment Report 2 (SAR2)) published

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27-30 July

Series of Exhibitions along the route, between Aughnacloy and Newbuildings, showing the Preferred Route for the A5 dual carriageway

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7 December

3 consortia were appointed. Section boundaries and consortia details are:

  • Section 1: New Buildings – Sion Mills (Balfour Beatty/BAM/FP McCann)
  • Section 2: Sion Mills – South of Omagh (Roadbridge/Sisk/PT McWilliams)
  • Section 3: South of Omagh - Aughnacloy (Graham/Farrans)

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14 December

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

Ministers noted the Progress Report on the 15 NSMC meetings which have been held since the last Plenary meeting in July 2009 and welcomed the mutually beneficial co-operation taken forward including:

continued progress on the A5 (Aughnacloy to North West Gateway) and A8 (Belfast-Larne) road projects. Contractor/designers were appointed in early December 2009 for the A5 project. A payment of €9m has been made by the Minister for Transport to the Northern Ireland Consolidated fund in accordance with the agreed procedure

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2010

June

Publication of ‘Alternatives Discussion Paper’.

Since the announcement of the Preferred Route in July 2009, the scheme design was developed to take on board comments from landowners as well as more detailed information including Ground Investigation, Drainage Surveys and Flood Modelling. Input from the appointed contractors also contributed to the design development.

As a result of the additional information becoming available, a number of alternatives were considered. This paper presents a comparison of the alternatives that it is proposed to adopt on the basis that they compare favourably when assessed against the 5 key criteria namely

  • Safety
  • Economics
  • Environment
  • Integration
  • Accessibility
Alternatives that were suggested and assessed, but subsequently not adopted, are also included.

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5 July

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

Ministers noted the Progress Report on the thirteen NSMC meetings which have been held since the last Plenary meeting in December 2009 and welcomed the mutually beneficial co-operation taken forward including;

that work is progressing well on the A5 (Aughnacloy to North West Gateway) and A8 (Belfast-Larne) projects to meet the next key milestones – Publication of Draft Orders – in late 2010/early 2011.

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2-5 November

Series of Exhibitions along the route, between Aughnacloy and Newbuildings, showing the Environmental Statement and draft Orders for the A5 dual carriageway

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22 November

Publication of the following documents:

Environmental Statement 2010 (ES 2010)

Notice of Intention to Make a Vesting Order 2010 (NIMVO 2010 or draft Vesting Order 2010)

The Notice of Intention to Make a Vesting Order includes provision for acquisition of those lands and interests considered by the Department to be necessary for construction of the scheme to:

  • construct the new route and alterations to side roads;
  • allow for alterations to water courses;
  • accommodate drainage requirements;
  • allow for the deposition of matter obtained in the course of constructing the new road;
  • allow for space to construct associated bridges and culverts;
  • provide access to severed land and property

Notice of Intention to Make a Direction Order 2010 (NIMDO 2010 or draft Direction Order 2010)

As the A5 is a trunk route, a Direction Order is required in accordance with the Roads (NI) Order 1993 for new sections of the route.

The draft Direction Order 2010 set out, in detail, the designation of the new route as a Trunk Road, and the stopping-up of roads. In accordance with Schedule 8 to the Roads (NI) Order 1993, signs were posted on the roads named in the Notice where stopping-up is proposed, to inform local residents.

Notice of Intention to Stop Up Private Access Order 2010 (draft Stopping Up Order 2010)

Where it is considered necessary to stop-up private accesses, a Stopping-up Order is required under Article 69 of the Roads (NI) Order 1993. In relation to the A5WTC the draft stopping up Order set out in detail the stopping up to road traffic of five private accesses where it was considered necessary, for safety reasons, to relocate these particular accesses.

These were advertised in local papers along the route on the 15 November and 22 November 2010

2011

21 January

Closing date for receipt of comments on the ES and draft Orders. Details of the number and type of comments received can be found in Section 7.6 of the ‘Submission on Policy and Procedure’ for the Department to the Public Inquiry.

21 January

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

Ministers noted the Progress Report on the ten NSMC meetings which have been held since the last Plenary meeting in July 2010 and welcomed the mutually beneficial co-operation taken forward including that:

The new dual carriageway close to Newry was opened in July 2010 and development work has continued on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne). These developments, along with progress already made in the overall motorway network in Ireland, will ensure greater road connectivity across the island.

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14 February

Announcement of the Public Inquiry into the A5WTC draft Orders

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22 March

Addendum to the ES 2010 published. It highlighted changes to the noise and air quality sections of the ES 2010 as a result of updating the traffic model. While this identified a number of local changes to conditions, in overall regional terms the changes were not significant

April

Stage 3 Scheme Assessment Report 3 (SAR3) published draft?

9 May - 1 July

Public Inquiry held and organised as follows:

  • STRATEGIC starting 9th May 2011 for 2 weeks in the Mellon Country Hotel.
  • SECTION 1 (New Buildings to Sion Mills) - starting 23rd May 2011 for 2 weeks in the Fir Trees Hotel, Strabane.
  • SECTION 2 (Sion Mills to south of Omagh) - starting 6th June 2011 for 2 weeks in the Mellon Country Hotel, near Omagh.
  • SECTION 3 (South of Omagh to Aughnacloy) - starting 20th June 2011 for 2 weeks in Kelly's Inn, Garvaghy, Ballygawley.

10 June

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

Ministers noted the progress to date on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) projects and agreed that payment of £11m will be made by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to the N.I. Consolidated Fund. The Council welcomed the continued commitment by the Irish Government to the funding of these projects, and agreed to consider a further progress report at the next NSMC Plenary meeting.

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9 November

Announcement from ROI that funding contribution for the A5WTC project to be reviewed

18 November

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

The Council noted progress on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) projects and agreed that payment of £3m will be made by the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport to the NI Consolidated Fund, in accordance with the agreed procedure.

Ministers noted that the provision of further funding by the Irish Government is being deferred and that in this regard the Irish Government will provide £25m per annum in 2015 and 2016 towards the project. It was also noted that the relevant departments will now prepare a new funding and implementation plan for the projects for agreement at the next NSMC Transport meeting with endorsement at the next NSMC Plenary meeting.

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2012

14 February

Finance Minister announces the Executive have now agreed to commit funding for the following projects within the next four years. There will be an investment of £330 million to upgrade two sections of the A5:

  • Londonderry to north of Strabane,
  • South of Omagh to Ballygawley

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also OFMDFM announcement:

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February

Inspector’s report for the A5WTC Public Inquiry received

May

A supplementary draft Vesting Order was published which included provision for acquisition of those lands and interests considered by the Department to be necessary to implement some of the recommendations made by the Inspector at the Public Inquiry. This land is necessary to facilitate:

  • alterations to side roads;
  • better access to severed land and property

15 June

North South Ministerial Council Plenary Joint Communiqué:

The Council discussed progress to date on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) projects. Ministers noted that the NI Executive has announced an investment package including two sections of the A5 and the A8 project. They also noted that the Irish Government remains committed to the completion of the co-funded A5 project.

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15 June

The DRD Minister made the decision to proceed with the A5WTC project. The following Orders were published:

  • Notice of Making the Vesting Order – operative 11th September 2012
  • Notice of Making the Supplementary Vesting Order – operative 11th September 2012
  • Notice of Making the Direction Order – operative 9th October 2012
  • Notice of Making the Stopping Up Order – operative 9th October 2012

10 September

The Department received a legal challenge to the Minister’s decision of 31st July 2012. This was the subject of a number of court hearings.

2013

January - March

Preliminary Works comprising site vegetation management, fencing, ecology works, for bats and badgers, archaeology investigations, geotechnical works and utilities diversions were carried out in advance of the main works programmed to start in April 2013.

12 March

The Judge advised that he was minded to quash the Orders. Although the judge found for the Department on 11 of the 12 issues that were raised in the legal challenge, he ruled against the Department on the need for an Appropriate Assessment on Rivers Foyle and Finn Special Areas of Conservation.

12 April

Minister’s decision quashed. Decision is not appealed. Land that had been vested is returned to former owners.

2014

30 April - 13 May

To comply with the Judge’s findings after the 2012 legal challenge, the Department published the following draft reports for consultation

River Foyle & Tributaries Special Area of Conservation

Owenkillew River Special Area of Conservation

River Finn Special Area of Conservation

Lough Foyle Special Protection Area

Lough Swilly Special Protection Area

Lough Neagh & Lough Beg Special Protection Area

Lough Foyle Ramsar Site

Lough Neagh & Lough Beg Ramsar Site

13 responses were received:

These have provided some useful feedback which will be taken into account in the forthcoming ES and compilation of the final HRA reports.

15 October - 28 November

To comply with the Judge’s findings after the 2012 legal challenge, the Department published the following reports for consultation

Tully bog special area of conservation

4 responses were received:

These have provided some useful feedback which will be taken into account in the forthcoming ES and compilation of the final HRA reports.

2015

November 2015

‘A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan’

Within ‘A Fresh Start’ the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government have agreed that “construction on the first section of the A5 will commence in 2017 with a view to completion by 2019.” This is however subject to the successful completion of statutory processes. The first section is the route between Newbuildings to North of Strabane (Phase 1A).

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2016

February 2016

Ministerial Announcement – 15th February

Transport Minister Michelle McIlveen announced the start of consultations on new draft Statutory Orders and a new Environmental Statement for the A5 Western Transport Corridor dual carriageway scheme. The publication of the draft Orders and the environmental statement, which took place during week beginning 15 February 2016, was followed by a public consultation period during which a series of public exhibitions were held at venues local to the scheme.

Publication of Statutory Procedures – 16th February

On Tuesday 16th February 2016 TransportNI published the Statutory Procedures for the A5 Western Transport Corridor. They were:

  • The Draft Trunk Road T3 (Western Transport Corridor) Order (Northern Ireland) 2016
  • The Draft Private Accesses on the A5 Western Transport Corridor (Stopping-Up) Order (Northern Ireland) 2016
  • Notice of Intention to Make a Vesting Order Phase 1A
  • Notice of Intention to Make a Vesting Order Phase 1B
  • Notice of Intention to Make a Vesting Order Phase 2
  • Environmental Statement 2016

Affected land owners received written notification and plans showing the areas of land that TransportNI proposed to vest to construct the Proposed Scheme 2016. Hard copies of these draft orders and the ES were put on public display in several locations.

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March 2016

Public Exhibitions – 1st-4th March

In early March 2016 the Department held a series of Public Exhibitions at the locations below:

  • Tuesday 1st March 2016 – Everglades Hotel
  • Wednesday 2nd March 2016 – Silverbirch Hotel
  • Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Fir Trees Hotel
  • Friday 4th March 2016 – Smyth Memorial Hall

The aims and objectives of the exhibitions were to:

  • Present the Proposed Scheme 2016 and draft Orders
  • Explain the changes that have taken place since 2010 to comply with current engineering and environmental standards and agreed commitments from the 2011 Public Inquiries
  • Explain the assessment and consultation process under the Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Directive associated with Special Areas of Conservation and internationally designated sites
  • Highlight the key factors which have influenced the choice of the Proposed Scheme 2016
  • Explain the direct or indirect effects the Proposed Scheme 2016 will have on property, the community and the environment
  • Detail the next steps in the scheme development process
  • Increase public awareness of the scheme
  • Engage with a range of stakeholders

April 2016

Consultation Period for Statutory Procedures Ends – 4th April

The consultation period for the statutory procedures published in February ended on 4th April. A total of 1,266 responses were received, including one petition of 400 signatories. The Department formally appointing the PAC to hold the Public Inquires expected to be held in autumn 2016.

Publication of the Revised Non-Technical Summary – 18th April

Following the consultation period it became apparent that the Non-Technical Summary did not capture the full scope of the ES, so a revised edition was published on 18th April called Non-Technical Summary – Revision A. Another consultation period was opened to allow for any further representations to be made to the Department concerning the revised document.

August 2016

Draft Flood Risk Assessment

Documents for a draft Flood Risk Assessment report were published, which consisted of:

  • Flood Risk Assessment Report 1 - Assessment Parameters and Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment
  • Flood Risk Assessment Report 2 – Hydraulic Model Build Report
  • Flood Risk Assessment Report 3 – Impact and Mitigation Assessment Report

October 2016

Public Inquiry – 4th October-14th December

A public inquiry, administered by the PAC, was held from October to December 2016. The Department provided an initial written response to the PAC on the 992 representations made. The PAC forwarded these on to and subsequently received a further 76 second submissions. Of these, 62 were scheduled to attend the Public Inquiry.

For ease of administration the site specific sessions were planned around the 3 sections of the Proposed Scheme rather than its proposed phasing. Consequently, the Inquiry comprised 5 main elements:

  • General Issues
  • Section 1: New Buildings to Sion Mills
  • Section 2: Sion Mills to South of Omagh
  • Section 3: South of Omagh to Aughnacloy
  • Strategic Issues

The PAC Commissioners presented a report of the public inquiry to the Department in May 2017 (see below).

2017

April 2017

Habitats Regulations Assessment Reports – 2nd public consultation – 13th April-22nd May

The Department published 4 updated draft reports for the HRA, seeking the opinion of the statutory consultees and interested parties to inform the appropriate assessment on the following Natura 2000 sites:

A5 WTC Report of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment SAC Watercourses covering:

  • River Foyle & Tributaries Special Area of Conservation
  • Owenkillew River Special Area of Conservation
  • River Finn Special Area of Conservation

A5 WTC Report of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment Tully Bog SAC covering

  • Tully Bog Special Area of Conservation

A5 WTC Report of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment SPAs covering:

  • Lough Foyle Special Protection Area
  • Lough Swilly Special Protection Area
  • Lough Neagh & Lough Beg Special Protection Area

A5 WTC Report of Information to Inform an Appropriate Assessment Ramsar Sites covering:

  • Lough Foyle Ramsar Site

May 2017

PAC Commissioners’ Report – 25th May

The PAC forwarded the Commissioners’ Report to the Department on 25th May. The Department has considered the contents and recommendations of the report before making a decision on the progression of the scheme. The report was released into the public domain when the decision on the scheme was announced.

August 2017

3rd consultation on the draft HRA reports – 22nd August-2nd October

A third public consultation period for the draft HRA reports was held between August and October 2017.