Mallon £1.4bn plan to turn tide of ‘underinvestment’

A plan has been announced to tackle “historic underinvestment” in Belfast’s water and waste water infrastructure.

(left to right) Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure Nicola Mallon, Paddy Brow Head of Living With Water Programme, and The Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl during the launch of NI Water's, Living With Water Programme at Belfast Castle.
(left to right) Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure Nicola Mallon, Paddy Brow Head of Living With Water Programme, and The Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl during the launch of NI Water's, Living With Water Programme at Belfast Castle.

Announcing the Living with Water programme Stormont Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said an effective and efficient system is critical both in terms of public health but also for our environment.

It aims to deliver a long-term approach to drainage and wastewater management that will protect from flooding, provide a cleaner and greener environment and ensure that Belfast is open for business and investment.

Speaking ahead of visiting Cop26 today, Ms Mallon warned the pressure is mounting on Northern Ireland’s ageing drainage and wastewater infrastructure following years of chronic underinvestment which when combined with the impacts of climate change is “creating the perfect storm with potentially devastating consequences”.

“We are experiencing the effects of this already with many of the sewerage networks and wastewater treatment works across Belfast at or nearing capacity, meaning that future connections for developments may not be accepted by NI Water,” she added.

“This could constrain economic growth and halt building the new homes our citizens so desperately need as well as causing likely increased pollution and damage to the environment and greater risk to the population’s health and wellbeing.”

Ms Mallon visited one of the pilot projects in the plan at Belfast Castle yesterday where six leaky dams have been installed to slow down the fall off of water from the mountains.

Asked about how she plans to secure £1.4bn from the Executive to fund the programme, Ms Mallon said it is an “essential fix”.

“We’re trying to address historic levels of underinvestment in our water and wastewater infrastructure,” she said. “The Living with Water programme has identified £1.4 billion of investment over the next 12 years.

“It’s not an inexpensive or quick fix, but it’s an essential fix. Our water and wastewater infrastructure is critical to our health and wellbeing.

“It’s critical to our environment and it’s also critical if we are to unlock our development capacity right across Northern Ireland.

“But of course, the Living with Water programme is a commitment in New Decade, New Approach so it is a commitment that governments and all parties around the Executive signed up to.”