McKee queries £600k paid for land for new HQ

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Ulster Unionist Agriculture Spokesperson, Harold McKee MLA, has raised concerns after it was revealed DAERA paid £600,000 for half an acre of land to improve access at their new headquarters at Ballykelly.

Mr McKee said: “The fact that the Department of Agriculture is having to pay £600,000 for half an acre of land for an access road to the new DAERA Headquarters, which works out at £1.2 million for one acre, only months after the Northern Ireland Executive sold 621 acres at Ballykelly for approximately £1610 per acre, will shock many members of the public. However given the Executive’s record so far, they won’t be a bit surprised.

“It does raise serious questions about the way business has been conducted in relation to Ballykelly. Did the Department of Agriculture know that they would have to purchase a strip of land when they drew up their original plans? And given that the Executive owned over 600 acres of land on the Ballykelly site, did no-one think to tie down access to the new DAERA HQ site before selling everything off?

“The value for money aspect for the public purse has already been questioned given that the final decision to move DAERA HQ was made by ministerial direction. I don’t think this latest revelation will do anything to inspire confidence in the Northern Ireland Executive, who demonstrate arrogance and contempt should anyone dare to scrutinise them.”