Stewart Dickson MLA said: “I am delighted that this scheme is going ahead. The A8 is a strategically important route on the Core European Network and I am confident that its upgrade will be of great economic benefit to Larne and to East Antrim generally. It will provide an excellent connection between the Port of Larne, Belfast and Dublin.
“The scheme will bring much needed construction jobs at a time when the sector is suffering due to the economic downturn. It will also help to reduce the number of accidents on the road.
“I do have some concerns about the timetable the Department has presented, with construction expected to begin in June. There are a lot of trees along the route and the bird nesting and breeding season has already begun. If the scheme had been taken forward earlier, tree felling would not have presented such a problem. I will be contacting the Minister to ensure that appropriate environmental impact assessments have taken place and that environmental groups have been consulted.
“A number of objections were also raised in early April about the plan to bypass Ballynure. I accept the Department’s argument that this would cause major safety and environmental concerns in the town. However, I also accept that local farmers are worried about their land being cut in two and so I will be enquiring of the Minister how much discussion has taken place with local residents and will work with him to ensure that appropriate access is provided and that other outstanding issues are resolved.”