Ulster Unionist Infrastructure Spokesperson, John Stewart MLA, has warned that Northern Ireland is increasingly falling behind in its preparations to manage flood risk.
The East Antrim MLA said:
“It is widely accepted that Northern Ireland’s drainage infrastructure is insufficient to meet the future requirements expected of it.
“According to the official flood maps drawn up by the Rivers Agency, up to 46,000 of our 830,000 properties could be at significant risk of flooding due to their location in coastal or river flood plains while a further 20,000 properties are sited in an area at risk of flooding from a significant rainfall event
“People affected by Tuesday’s flooding in the North West saw just how devastating flooding can be to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. Climate scientists have warned that localised flooding will become an ever more common occurrence, so it essential that preparations are being taken now. In the absence of an Executive however, these preparations are simply not happening.
“A previous Executive report five years ago recommended the consolidation of all of the flood response agencies under one Department, yet this only happened last year. The combined flood response from Executive Department’s is still not good enough however – there was total confusion earlier in the week on which Department was even responsible for authorising the £1,000 emergency flood payments. It would have been outrageous if homeowners affected by these floods were left further out of pocket as a result of the political limbo at Stormont.”