'Longer term flood solutions' must be introduced 'swiftly' says John O'Dowd

Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd says 'viable longer term solutions' must be introduced as 'swiftly as possible' to address recurrent flooding issues in Derry City, Drumahoe, Eglinton and Strabane.
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He was speaking after lands owned by Derry City and Strabane District Council were acquired for a short term flooding intervention at the Ballycolman Estate.

Mr. O’Dowd has said an interim solution to recent flooding in Strabane is to begin this month.

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At the end of last month around 40 homes in Derry flooded when 70mm of rain fell in just five hours.

Severe flooding on the Lecky Road in August 2017.Severe flooding on the Lecky Road in August 2017.
Severe flooding on the Lecky Road in August 2017.

Last week Minister O’Dowd met residents in the Ballycolman Estate and gave a commitment to bring forward the required work to prevent the flooding of homes.

Minister O’Dowd said: “Following my visit I wrote to the Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey seeking her Department’s approval in connection with a short term solution being actively progressed in conjunction with Derry City and Strabane District Council (DC&SDC).

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DfI report identifies potential significant flood risk in Derry

“The short term intervention to provide flood relief to the houses under threat of flooding requires the temporary use of DC&SDC lands and this required approval from the Department for Communities.

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“I am pleased to announce that Minister Hargey has granted my Department and the Council permission to facilitate access to the lands and this will allow progression of the works in advance of the formal completion of the legal agreement.

“My officials and Council officials will progress the signing of the legal agreement in parallel with these works so that it will be in place upon completion of, or shortly after, the short term solution is in place. I can also confirm that my Department is in a position to commence these construction works later his month and this will considerably reduce the risk of in-house flooding to properties at Ballycolman.

“I also fully recognise the need to introduce viable longer term solutions as swiftly as possible to reduce the impacts of further flooding. That is why my Department is taking forward, where possible, a number of flood alleviation proposals in various locations across the north, including Drumahoe, Eglinton and Derry City."

Late last year DfI’s second cycle Flood Risk Management Plan 2021-2027 identified several areas of ‘potential significant flood risk’ in Derry with buildings and infrastructure most at risk from surface water flooding and from inundations arising from small water courses and streams in the city.

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The risk of fluvial flooding from the River Foyle itself was deemed to be limited, as was tidal flooding from the lough.

The report stated that the River Foyle ‘does not constitute a major flood risk to Londonderry itself because the city is situated in the wider, tidal reaches of this river’.

However, significant flooding from urban tributaries throughout the city and from the River Faughan to the east was deemed a bigger risk as was disastrously demonstrated during the major floods of August 2017.

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The report noted how a Northern Ireland Flood Risk Assessment (NIFRA) in 2018 identified that Derry had the second highest level of flood risk amongst the twelve Areas of Potential Significant Flood Risk (APSFR) in the north.

“There are several urban watercourses running through the city, and the main areas at risk of fluvial flooding on the west bank of the Foyle lie near the Pennyburn Stream and Creggan Burn.

“The main areas at risk on the east bank are near the Woodburn Park Stream, Burnagibbagh [Tullyally] and Ardnabrocky Drain [Drumahoe],” it stated.