NEWCASTLE area Councillor Carmel O’Boyle, the Down District Council representative on the local floods forum (LFF) that has been set up by the Strategic Policy Unity of DARD’s Rivers Agency, has welcomed the initiative.
In Down District, flooding has occurred in Downpatrick and Newcastle and in smaller villages such as Maghera and Annsborough.
The task of the group is to progress the development of the Flood Risk Management Plans which the EU Floods Directive requires to be published for consultation in draft in December 2014. This will be the Flood Management Plan embracing the whole of Northern Ireland.
Councillor O’Boyle said following a meeting of the LFF in Belfast City Hall on Wednesday (4 September): “Across Northern Ireland, eight areas have been identified as being most prone to flooding, and two of these, Newcastle and Downpatrick, are within our district. So it is very important that we have an input into the creation of this Flood Risk Management Plan.
“Since I was first elected in 1997, we have secured very significant funding for major projects that address our flooding problems, particularly in Newcastle, including the Burren River Flood Alleviation Scheme and more recently our upgrade of the Water Treatment Plant at the Harbour and Holding Tank in Castle Park.
“Surface flooding, however, remains a problem, and the LFF hopes to put a business case to Ministers with proposals that will address this, including the provision of flood defence gates to individual homes that are prone to flooding, at no charge to the householder.
“This is something I would like to see since I know the cost of these defences are very high and beyond the means of many families. By December 2014 an interactive map, called a Stakeholder Viewer, will allow Councils and other statutory agencies to pinpoint exactly where flooding is most likely to occur and this will enable all of us to respond early and appropriately. Central to the plan we draw up will be Prevention, Protection and Preparedness,” added Councillor O’Boyle.