Flood defenses receive boost

3_peopleIn the wake of recent flooding an extra £1.3 million has been found to bolster Northern Ireland’s flood defenses and additional funding has been allocated to tackle problem roads prone to flooding.

Northern Ireland is to receive £1.3 million as part of the UK’s flood response funding and Stormont Ministers have agreed to spend it bolstering defences against future flooding.

Executive Ministers met in mid-January at Stormont Castle to discuss the issue amid flooding around Lough Erne and Lough Neagh. Around 30 homes and business were flooded over the festive period and many rural roads were closed due to high waters.

The sheer intensity of the rainfall in such a short period of time had overwhelmed the infrastructure already in place.

The Executive has also asked for a thorough review of all emergency planning processes with a view to strengthening existing procedures and highlighting any areas where improvements can be made.

A ministerial statement announcing the distribution of the money read: “The Executive was briefed on the joint Ministerial flood response meeting held in Cookstown involving Regional Development Minister, Michelle McIlveen MLA, Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA and Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan MLA.

“The Ministers paid tribute to all those who worked through the holiday period in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions to bring relief to those affected by flooding. There was a full discussion on how resources can be best used to limit the impact on people, properties and businesses.

“There was also an agreement that the three Ministers dealing with flooding would bring to the Executive proposals in relation to potential support schemes. The Executive agreed the approach must be balanced, supporting those in urgent need but also having a co-ordinated, strategic, evidence based approach for the future.

Similarly, the Department for Regional Development has announced a further £1 million will be spent to develop a package of road improvement to mitigate against future flooding.

Fermanagh stands to be the main beneficiary of this extra funding as an allocation of £625,000 is to be spent on key roads impacted by flooding.

The list of roads to benefit in the area will include the B127 Derrylin Road, Lisnaskea, the B533 Wattlebridge Road, Newtownbutler and the C436 Inishmore Road, Maguiresbridge. Speaking following this announcement Transport Minister, Michelle McIlveen MLA welcomed the significant investment and claimed the project will help keep roads passible in the future.

“The roads involved in the scheme will be raised and, in addition, a number of other local schemes will be carried out to deal with areas where localised flooding cuts off the local community from schools, churches and shops,” she said.

“Fermanagh will not be the only area to benefit, a range of drainage improvements have been identified for parts of Armagh, Dungannon, Downpatrick, Newry and Banbridge including a scheme to address flooding on the A1.

“Together I believe this major package of improvements will help to considerably lessen the difficult and distressing impacts that severe flooding has on our communities.”

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