A £150m road scheme linking Londonderry to Tyrone has finally been given government approval, paving the way for construction to start next year.
Phase one of the A5 road in eastern Northern Ireland will now begin early next year after Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure decided to proceed with the scheme.
Work on the 15 km New Buildings to Strabane road makes up the first phase of the full programme, which will deliver an 85 km trunk road between Londonderry and Tyrone.
In 2009 a joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Bam Nuttall and FP McCann was contracted to construct the scheme.
The decision to proceed comes after a series of delays to the scheme that was first mooted more than a decade ago.
In 2011, the project hit its first road block when the Northern Irish government launched an inquiry looking into the environmental impact of the scheme.
The project’s funding was subsequently reduced from £400m to £42m.
After securing fresh backing in 2013 the project was once again delayed after a ruling by the High Court.
In November 2015, the government agreed to provide £85m in funding for the scheme and launched an inquiry into its construction last year to pave the way for a planning green light this week.
Department for Infrastructure permanent secretary Peter May said: “This decision concurs with the Planning Appeals Commission recommendation that the scheme should proceed in the wider public interest.
“Before giving approval for the scheme to proceed, careful consideration was given to the PAC Report and the department’s assessment of the environmental impacts of the scheme.
“In proceeding with the scheme, the department commits to carrying out the necessary actions to implement the PAC recommendations and mitigation measures as described in the Department’s Statement and the Environmental Statement. Construction will start as soon as possible.”