The head of policy at the hauliers’ association says a lack of progress on the A6 upgrade and the Dungiven bypass is a “major hindrance” to the region and one of the main things holding economic development in Londonderry back.
Seamus Leheny of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says it costs a pound a minute to run a 44 tonne truck and thus crawling to-and-from Londonderry via bottlenecks in Dungiven and Moneynick is deterring major industry from setting up this side of the Glenshane mountain pass.
“The A6 is certainly a major hindrance to the region, again you only have to look at the towns where there is a healthy level of manufacturing and you will see they are connected to Belfast and the Ports via motorway or dual carriageway,” Mr Leheny told the Sentinel.
“HGVs are limited to 40 miles per hour on single carriageway compared to 60 miles per hour for cars. Add in the cost of delays on the A6 and congestion at bottlenecks such as Moneynick and Dungiven.
“The operating cost for a 44-tonne HGV is approximately £1 a minute therefore it costs more to transport goods to and from L’Derry via the A6 compared to another location of equal distance but is serviced via a motorway or dual carriageway,” he added.
Mr Leheny says the FTA is on the case and has already written to the new Sinn Féin Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard insisting the A6 is placed on top of his to-do list.
“The FTA has written to the new DFI Minister requesting that the A6 upgrade is given priority status. We have also written to the six new MLAs for the Foyle constituency outlining the need and economic benefits of the A6 upgrade and asking for their support in ensuring the upgrade is secured and delivered as soon as possible,” said Mr Leheny.
In the letter he points out how the “ability to trasport goods to market efficiently is a key criteria for any company considering investing in a new location.”
He writes that a new A6 will make it cheaper and safer for HGV operators - “the lifeblood of the economy” - to transport goods to and from Londonderry.