Flood defences planned for two villages in Co Londonderry devastated in a storm in 2017 will go ahead next year — but only if there is money in the Stormont budget.
Almost £7m will be needed to ward off a repeat of the widespread destruction in Eglinton and Drumahoe.
The need for flood defences was identified in feasibility studies undertaken by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) but DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton said he would like the project prioritised by the Minister Nichola Mallon.
Mr Middleton said: “The effects of the flood in 2017 are still being felt and we are now in 2020 and people are still concerned about what would happen if we had the significant rainfall like August 2017.
“While I welcome the news that the department has a plan but I think the minister needs to prioritise that work.
“I appreciate the issues around budgets but at the same time, she needs to put a bid into the Department of Finance to make sure these flood defences are put in place.
“We know there were a number of factors that contributed to the devastation of 2017, which included the lack of defences, but there will be a worry amongst residents that this isn’t being looked at until 2021 so I would like to see the minister move this project up on her agenda.”
Ms Mallon said she recognised the importance of flood alleviation schemes “in terms of safety and residents’ confidence”.
“I am therefore keen to advance improvements on this scheme as soon as possible but cannot confirm funding until there is more clarity on the budgetary position,” she said.
“Subject to funding being available, the works could commence on site during the 2021/22 financial year and would take approximately 12 months to complete. The estimated cost of the proposed works at Drumahoe and Eglinton are £2.5m and £4.2m respectively.
“DfI has also worked with multi agency partners, community leaders and residents to establish community resilience groups in Drumahoe and Eglinton to enable these communities to be better prepared to respond to the risk of flooding. “