Work to upgrade the A6 in Northern Ireland has been delayed following a judgement hearing at Belfast High Court earlier this week.
Work was originally due to commence in October but confusion over ongoing habitat checks and assessments and their impact on the overall scheme led the judge to question the importance of these checks and whether their result could have halted the project.
Leave was granted and there will now be a full hearing, probably in early 2017. Until then work cannot commence.
Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard said: “The judgement has ruled out five of the six grounds for judicial review and means that the substantive case will be heard on the one issue relating to the habitats directive.
“While I had hoped that we would be able to proceed with this strategically important project, we will play our part to ensure that as Justice Maguire said, there will be a speedy date for a full hearing and I remain confident that we will be ultimately successful.
“I am absolutely committed to the construction of the A6, and will now explore our options for commencing construction on the unchallenged section of this project.”
Seamus Leheny, policy manager for the Freight Transport Association (FTA) in Northern Ireland, said: “The A6 is the main strategic road for transporting commercial goods between L’Derry, mid-Ulster and the wider North West and it is vital that the scheme gets back on track as soon as possible to ensure the economic wellbeing of local industry and of commercial vehicle operators using this key transport corridor.”