Former underwater car park to re-open despite fears but no permanent replacement until A6 section is completed

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The temporary park-and-ride at Drumahoe, which saw cars swept into the River Faughan during the recent floods, will be re-opened as soon as possible.

And it will remain operational until a permanent replacement is designed as part of the A6 scheme.

The car park, which was actually elevated when it was first opened due to its perilous situation on the Faughan’s floodplain, was meant to close in 2015, according to local environmental campaigner Eamonn McCann.

He said the car park should never have been given planning permission in the first place.

“The Department for Infrastructure allowed a temporary facility to be built on a floodplain. It was to be gone by the end of 2015. But it was still there 20 months later. This is the reason so many cars were swept away when the Faughan flooded,” claimed Mr. McCann.

But the Department for Infrastructure said no-one could have foreseen the extent of the flooding late last month.

A spokesperson said: “Exceptional rainfall and unprecedented flows in watercourses in this area recently resulted in a significantly larger flooded area than could have been reasonably foreseen. At the time of building, the level of the car park was raised to reduce potential impacts from flooding.”

The Department also vowed to re-open the park-and-ride as soon as possible and that it was actively working to secure planning permission to this end.

“This facility is used by several commuters day and daily and is an important part of the local infrastructure network. Given this, work is underway to enable the car park to be reopened as soon as possible.

“The intention is that this temporary facility is maintained until a replacement facility is provided as part of the A6 dualling project. In relation to planning permission, the Department is currently in discussions with the council’s Planning Department,” said added the spokesperson.

Mr. McCann, a member of the People Before Profit Allowance said planners needed to proceed according to the precautionary principle when it came to the protection of the environment.

“The safety of people and defence of the environment should be the key factors in any planning system.”