Advanced site works have started on the proposed Enniskillen Southern Bypass – news that has been welcomed across Fermanagh.

These initial works, which started last week and are understood will take approximately eight weeks to complete, involve site clearance, fencing and Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) diversionary works.

A spokesman for P. Keenan Quarries, the road contracting company undertaking the initial works, announced the commencement of the works, saying: “We are delighted to have commenced advanced site works on the regionally significant A4 Enniskillen Southern Bypass this week for our valued client, DfI Roads.

“The completed £30m scheme will link the A4 Dublin Road to the A4 Sligo road via the A509 Derrylin Road.”

Mark Fawcett, who owns land on which the proposed Enniskillen Southern Bypass will pass through, spoke to The Impartial Reporter about this latest progress.

“We’re at advanced works at the minute. They are here cutting down trees and starting to fence,” he said, adding: “It means we are in the middle of the fencing-off; this is the start of the scheme. There are diggers here lifting trees out, and there’s [wood] chippers going.”

First approached in 2006, Mr. Fawcett is happy that the advanced sites works have now begun. He said: “It’s a project that has been looming over us for quite a number of years.

“We’ll be glad to get it done, to be honest. The sooner we get it out of our hair, and the sooner we get it finished, the better.”

Also welcoming the beginning of work on the Enniskillen Southern Bypass was Councillor Adam Gannon, SDLP.

Councillor Gannon said: “The beginning of work on the bypass will be welcomed by everyone in this community. This project has been talked about for decades, and I’d like to thank SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon for getting it over the line.

“This project will be transformational for everyone living in and travelling through this area. It will not only shorten journey times, but it will make our roads safer by installing important traffic measures that will lessen accidents and injuries.

“It’s also welcome that these plans include the building of a cycleway/footway for the full length of the bypass.

“Since taking office, Minister Mallon has demonstrated her commitment to tackling the climate crisis and a key part of this is encouraging people to leave their cars and other motorised vehicles at home.

“Active travel is becoming more and more and popular, as evidenced during the coronavirus pandemic, and this cycleway/footway will be an important part of these plans.

“Too often we have seen our area left behind, despite politicians from this constituency holding high office.

“By delivering this project, Minister Mallon has once again demonstrated her determination to ensure people right across the North get their fair share, and the lives of people in this community will be better for it.”

DfI Roads Western Division are progressing the design and development of the A4 Enniskillen Southern Bypass between the A4 Dublin road and the A4 Sligo Road.

The proposed Enniskillen bypass will provide a new transport link to the southern side of the town, improving the connection between the A4 Dublin Road and the A4 Sligo Road, which will include a range of works.

These include the construction of a 2.1km single carriageway with overtaking lanes provided at each end of the new road; the construction of two roundabouts, at the Dublin Road and Derrylin Road; and the construction of two new river bridges over the River Erne and River Sillees.

The works also include the provision of a 3.5m cycleway/footway along the full length of the bypass and extending along the Dublin Road and Derrylin Road to connect into existing non-motorised user infrastructure; and the enhancement of non-motorised user facilities, to include the provision of a puffin crossing on the Derrylin Road.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon confirmed last May 11 her intention to proceed with the bypass scheme and to make the statutory orders, having considered all of the environmental information and responses to the consultation of the scheme and the draft orders. The Departmental Statement was also published at this stage.

A town centre study is ongoing to identify active travel and place-making measures that can be implemented after the bypass has been delivered and traffic congestion within the town has been relieved.