Martina Anderson issues ‘no drains, no cranes’ warning and says development in Derry will dry up without water and sewerage investment

Foyle MLA Martina Anderson says investment in sewerage and water must be an Executive priority or development in Derry will dry up.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 5:24 pm

She raised the matter at the Stormont Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday.

“If you don’t have any drains you won’t have many cranes. We need to ensure that we invest in sewerage infrastructure and public transport as well as investing in roads and rail,” she said.

She referred to the growing suburbs on Derry’s northern border with Donegal.

“We need to ensure there is not back-to-back development in constituencies like Derry and Donegal. We can’t just resolve the issue around sewerage up to the border and then leave a blockage because it obviously doesn’t recognise the partitioned border. We need to make sure we are connected,” she said.

Significant development including new housing on the H2 lands and the A2 Buncrana Road are due to progress on lands by the Skeoge river.

Concerns have elsewhere been raised about the need to alleviate flood risk at the Creggan reservoir while small rivers like the Creggan and Pennyburn on the cityside, the Burnagibbagh, Woodburn and Ardnabrocky in the Waterside and the Muff and Castle rivers in Eglinton, though low risk, all have to be managed as development proceeds.

In its 2021 Capital Business Plan NI Water also indicated the Derry wastewater network is already at capacity.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, meanwhile, last year allocated £130,000 for a Living with Water feasibility study in Derry, This is focused on the A2 Buncrana Road and will bring ‘forward integrated drainage solutions locally’ while using the ‘blue-green space’ at the Linear Park in Galliagh to ‘reduce naturally surface water flows in order to improve water quality in the rivers and reduce flood risk in the surrounding area.’

Ms. Anderson raised the issue with Ms. Mallon in the Assembly this week: “Waste water capacity is one of the biggest issues facing housing and planning in the North. Plans are under way to build a waste water treatment pump at the Derry/Donegal border, for instance, so that the lack of sewerage capacity does not literally block the development of 4,000 housing units in the border area of Skeoge.”

The Minister replied: “There has been historical underinvestment in our water and waste water infrastructure, and, as a result, 116 locations across NI are at, or almost at, maximum development capacity. That will, inevitably, have a knock-on effect on development, be that the building of the many new homes that are needed, schools or, once we get through this, hotels. It is a huge challenge. It is a huge challenge when we reflect on the fact that some £2 billion has been identified for capital investment in the next price control period.”