Belfast Telegraph

Flooding fears increase along with water levels

by Chris McCann

There has been a renewed call for flood alleviation measures to be funded in east Belfast after heavy rain promised further misery for residents this week.

Even at the end of last week, water levels were understood to be just 10cm below the underside of Sydenham Bypass Bridge while high tides and rainfall nearly topped river banks in Victoria Park.

Yesterday (Wednesday) local residents feared the worst as areas of the city fell foul of wet weather yet again.

Flooding occurred at Balllyregan Road, Dundonald, on the outskirts of east Belfast.

Wendy Langham, programme manager, Connswater Community Greenway, said whilst the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) had funding in place to deliver the park improvements and river enhancement works element of its project, funding for flooding alleviation measures had yet to be confirmed.

Such measures would increase the flood protection to some 1,800 properties along part of the Greenway route and will entail a combination of culvert widening, construction of flood walls, embankments and river realignment.

The programme manager said: “Through this project, we have the opportunity to protect hundreds of properties at risk of flooding from the Loop, Knock and Connswater Rivers.

“The flooding of these rivers continues to cause chaos in east Belfast. A recent combination of high tides and surge in rainfall threatened the flood defences in some areas of Victoria Park.

“We need to ensure that the funding for the flood measures is secured and that the flood defences are put in place to protect these people and properties in east Belfast.”

A DARD spokesperson said: “In anticipation of last week's high tide levels, Rivers Agency along with the Department of Social Development who have responsibility for the Lagan Weir, continually monitored water levels and took appropriate action. No flooding occurred. A flood alleviation scheme for this area has been proposed and the first phase of this is due to commence shortly.”

On Wednesday, a Roads Service Spokesperson added: “Roads Service is aware of localised flooding today on the Sydenham Bypass in the vicinity of Victoria Park and operatives have been on site working to address the problem. Motorists should however be aware that they may encounter localised flooding on the roads and they should exercise caution when travelling”.

The construction of the Connswater Community Greenway is imminent after the contracts were awarded last week. The regeneration scheme is being led by the East Belfast Partnership.

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