Belfast Telegraph

Calls for town flood defence system

The installation of a flood defence system around one of Enniskillen's busiest shopping areas should be considered to protect it from the rising waters of Lough Erne, a report has found.

Vulnerable lakeside roads across Fermanagh must also be raised and upgraded to minimise the impact of any repeat of last year's widespread flooding in the county, the Government taskforce that investigated the incident recommended.

The official inquiry, which said future flooding could not be completely prevented, called for a major review of how water levels in the lough are managed throughout the year.

It also stressed the need to ensure essential services continue to be delivered in the area in times of flood and said greater protection for the Killyhevlin Water Treatment Works near Enniskillen was required.

In November 2009, vast swathes of Fermanagh became submerged after days of heavy rainfall, marooning many residents in their homes and forcing the closures of schools and businesses.

One of the most high profile incidents saw the Derrychara Link road that runs between the popular Erneside shopping centre and the ever busy Tesco and Asda stores being completed swamped.

Engineers worked round the clock to raise the road with an extra layer of tarmac during the flooding, but the taskforce decided that it would be too expensive - £1 million - to build it up any further, as the route lies on a soft former lake bed.

Instead it recommended assessing whether flood defence measures could be installed. The Rivers Agency and Roads Service is to conduct a feasibility study on that next year.

"It may be feasible to isolate the Derrychara/Erneside area from Lough Erne in the event of a repeat flood event to prevent flood inundation of the area," said the report.

Stormont Agriculture Minister and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew welcomed the findings. She said: "No one wants to see the scenes of last year repeated and thanks to everyone working together, the taskforce has developed a set of recommendations to address the key issues presented to us by local people and organisations."

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