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The removal of rock by blasting is an integral aspect of the A1 Beech Hill to Cloghogue dual carriageway scheme. Although I regret the disruption that construction activity is causing to adjacent properties, blasting remains the only practical process, given the quantity and characteristics of the rock involved. The contractor on site is required to employ current good practice in relation to the construction process to ensure that all necessary and appropriate measures are implemented to protect properties in the vicinity of the work from damage.
Under the terms of the contract, the contractor will deal with any claims that may arise in the event of damage caused to residential or business properties by rock blasting.
An dtig liom a fhiafraí den Aire cá mhéad teach agus gnólacht a ndearnadh dochar dóibh agus ar thug an tAire cuairt orthu? Caidé an measúnú a rinne sé orthu?
How many homes and businesses damaged by the blasting has the Minister visited? Will he give Members an assessment of what he has observed? Go raibh maith agat.
I have not visited any properties. As far as I am aware — and I have kept an eye on the situation — only one property has reported any damage. The owners have been in touch with Roads Service and have been informed of the procedure for pursuing compensation.
The Member is shaking his head. Perhaps he will correspond with me and tell me about the other properties; however, I am aware of only one. The owners have contacted Roads Service, and they have been advised who is responsible for the site. The contractor is responsible, and he has informed his insurance agents that there may be the possibility of a claim. That is the process.
The Member is keen to try to put Roads Service or me in the middle as having some responsibility. However, as the Member has been told on several occasions, a contractor employed to carry out work is responsible for what happens. Contractors are responsible for dealing with any damage or inconvenience caused as a result of their actions. That is the way the contract was designed, that is how it is being operated, and that is why the Department has given the Member the same advice repeatedly.
I am not aware that any livestock have been endangered. I am aware that the owners of one business property have claimed that there was damage, and they have been instructed how to process any claim that may arise. I know quite a number of people who live in that area, and I talk to them regularly. I have not heard of any further claims of damage, either to property or to livestock. However, if there are others, I am sure that they will be able to pursue their claim in the same way.
The Member was involved in discussions on the matter during the summer, so he will know that a liaison group that comprises local residents has been set up. The group covers Corrinshego and Altnaveigh, as well as several other areas along the existing bypass and where the construction of the new road is ongoing. That group has regular contact with Roads Service and, more importantly, the contractors — they are the people who are closing roads in order to carry out construction work. I am led to believe that a further meeting about the Cloghogue area is to be held this week.
The liaison group, which also has local council involvement, appears to be functioning quite well. Therefore, if the Member’s constituents are keen to pursue the issue, they can do so through that group, which has acted on behalf of a number of residents and groups along the length of the bypass. However, if they wish to pursue the matter in a different way, I am happy to deal with any request that the Member brings to me.