'Strict regime' of roadside gullies cleaning needed in Derry, warns MLA

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has called on the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to implement a robust gully maintenance schedule with a view to prioritising areas at greatest risk of flooding.

Historically under DfI policy, gullies in urban areas are cleaned twice A year and in rural areas once per year, but due to budgetary constraints in recent years this has been reduced to annually.

Mr Durkan said given the recent substantial rainfall it is evident that poor gully maintenance has contributed to increased flooding in some areas.

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“Within my own constituency of Foyle, I’ve seen for myself that gullies in some parts of the Creggan area of the city have gone without maintenance for years.

Mark H Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

"This is in no way a reflection on the good work carried out by local DfI Roads divisions, whose staff are out in all weathers, but rather it highlights the need for an improved recording system and increased resources.”

"A strict regime for routine cleaning of silt and other debris from roadside gullies is key to prevent water from building up during periods of heavy rainfall leading to flooding.”

“Given the predictions of increased rainfall and flooding in the region as a consequence of climate change, an effective cleaning schedule of drainage networks, albeit a relatively simple solution, will be crucial in the long term.”

He added: “Gully optimisation and the issue of regular cleaning of street drainage may seem a humdrum issue but it is fundamental in the reduction of flooding on roads and streets across Northern Ireland.

“Having spoken with various contractors, it’s clear that parked vehicles are a major issue which prevent access to gullies in streets highlighted for maintenance. However, in such instances it’s unclear whether a follow up is subsequently flagged on the maintenance schedule. While I accept that blocked drainage is not a sole cause of flooding, it is definitely a contributing factor. In recent months we’ve witnessed heavy rainfall which has caused havoc on our roads as well as in and around residential areas.”