Dromore Underpass

Oral Answers to Questions — Regional Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 10th December 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:00 pm, 10th December 2001

1. asked the Minister for Regional Development what progress has been made on the proposals for an underpass to the A1 dual carriageway at the Hillsborough Road junction, Dromore.

(AQO 499/01)

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

My Department’s Roads Service published the necessary environmental statement in February 2001, and the direction and stopping-up orders in July 2001, in order to progress the junction improvements proposal on the A1 at Hillsborough Road, Dromore. Following those publications, several objections were received, and despite the best efforts of Roads Service officials those objections have not been resolved. Therefore, public inquiries will have to take place. It is hoped that they will commence as early as possible in the new year. The start date for the scheme will depend on the outcome of those inquiries and the availability of funding at that time.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The inhabitants of Dromore, and those who regularly use that junction, will be disappointed that a public inquiry must take place. An 84-year-old woman was recently killed crossing the junction; it is a death trap. Will the Minister tell the House how many objections were received, and the nature of those objections? I understand that several of them were environmental objections that would not stand up to scrutiny. Were that the case, a public inquiry would not be necessary.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

I understand the frustration of the people of Dromore who want the scheme to proceed. That frustration is shared by my Department’s Roads Service, which is equally eager to advance the scheme. However, the House recognises that individuals have rights, and it is important that people put forward a material objection to any roads proposal so that it can be thoroughly considered. If an objection cannot be dealt with through discussions with Roads Service officials, the matter should rightly be heard at an inquiry. In this case, there will be inquiries into a number of the features, and not simply the environmental statement or the direction and stopping-up orders.

There were four objections. I have to say to my Colleague that, although he and I may not consider some of the objections to be well founded, I am not in the position to set them aside on that basis. If something will have a material impact on someone’s property and the matter cannot be resolved, there has to be a public inquiry. That is the case in this instance.

Photo of Mr Mick Murphy Mr Mick Murphy Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. When will the carriageway on the A1 as it passes Dromore — which has been closed for the past 18 months — be reopened?

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

The Department for Regional Development has a number of proposals relating to the A1. The A1 is a key road in the Province’s infrastructure, and the Department will ensure that there is no undue delay in the opening of any road or the improvements on it. The Roads Service proposes to construct a grade separation junction between the A1 and the Rathfriland Road at Banbridge. The principal objective of that scheme will be to improve road safety at that junction. The estimated cost of that scheme will be about £2·5 million. That is in the Department’s preparation pool, subject to finance. There have been some objections to the scheme, but the Department is doing its best to address the concerns of the objectors. However, the ultimate aim of the Roads Service is to have Northern Ireland’s roads open and operating fully.