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Stormont withdraws defence against A5 legal challenge

THE Department of Infrastructure has asked the High Court to squash its decision to press ahead with the A5 Western Transport Corridor scheme.
 
At a hearing today (Thursday), senior counsel for the Stormont Department said it was no longer in the public interest to defend against a legal challenge to the scheme going ahead.
 
Members of the Alternative A5 Alliance had taken the legal action.
 
A final decision is due to be taken tomorrow (Friday) in order to provide the campaign group with time to consult with their legal team.
 
The concession is based on the fact that approval for the dual-carriageway was given in the absence of a Stormont Minister. 
Reacting to the development, West Tyrone SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan, called for new civil service powers to be used to progress the A5 scheme.
 
“Today is not a triumph for the AA5A. I still have full confidence the scheme will go ahead next Autumn if officials progress it under new legislation introduced by the Secretary of State. This legislation negates the AA5A’s main legal argument,” he said.
 
“It is reprehensible that we have gotten to this stage to begin with. The AA5A and their actions have been deplorable. How they can proceed with a court case when tens of families across the region have unnecessarily lost their lives is beyond me.
 
“I am now calling on the Department, it’s Permanent Secretary, to again move ahead with the legal orders necessary to progress the A5 and deliver first class infrastructure for the area. This must be soon as soon as practically possible.”
 
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