Michelle O’Neill said:
“I now have Executive agreement for my decision to decentralise my Departmental Headquarters out of Belfast to Ballykelly, Co Derry.
“We will now press on with the necessary detailed design work and the process of awarding a contract to begin the building work by the end of 2015 for completion late 2017.
“The plan is to complete the move in two phases; the first by the end of 2017 and the remainder by the end of 2020.
“This is consistent with my commitment to relocate to a rural area. This move to Ballykelly forms part of my broader programme of relocations.
“The Forest Service is being headquartered in Fermanagh and Fisheries Division in Downpatrick by June 2015. The Rivers Agency will be headquartered in the Loughrey Campus of the College of Agri Food and Rural Enterprise by March 2016.
“This decision will mean that I meet my Programme for Government target to decentralise DARD’s Headquarters to a rural location.
“However, I also expect these moves to deliver real social and economic improvement in rural areas while enhancing the identification of the Department with the rural community.”