Belfast Telegraph

Winter spell brings total NI cold weather payments to £1.9m

By Claire McNeilly

Further cold weather payments to the tune of £450,000 will be issued to Northern Ireland homeowners due to the ravages of the recent cold snap.

It brings to £1.9m the total amount paid out by the Department for Communities as a result of another run of sub-zero temperatures this winter.

Approximately 18,000 people in the post code areas covered by the Met Office's Thomastown and Castlederg weather stations are to benefit from the latest payments of £25 each.

Only those living in the postcode areas BT74-79, 81-82 and 92-94 will qualify for the compensation, which the department has said it will distribute automatically on March 14.

The Cold Weather Payment is available when the average temperature is recorded, or is forecast to be zero degrees centigrade or below, for a period of seven consecutive days.

A yellow ice warning was in place for Northern Ireland until 9am yesterday, but forecasters have said the worst of the cold spell is over, with the weather looking up over the weekend.

"It's turning milder and Northern Ireland is going to be one of the best parts of the UK; it'll be bright, dry and not too chilly today and Sunday, with perhaps a little rain tomorrow," said Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon.

The good news comes as the province recovers from the impact of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma which brought snow, ice and chilly winds last week, closing 400 schools, as well as many shops, restaurants and offices.

In the aftermath of the ferocious winter spell, roads expert Dr Wesley Johnston told the Belfast Telegraph he expects Northern Ireland's pothole problem to be much worse.

Similarly, Quarry Products Association regional director Gordon Best said the sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions will cost the economy millions of pounds in road repairs.

"It will take between £3m-£4m extra to deal with the massive damage to the whole of the network brought about by the recent exceptional weather conditions," Mr Best said.

Their comments have been supported by the RAC who yesterday warned that the recent blast of freezing weather will lead to a further spike in potholes on UK roads.

Marking National Pothole Day, the motoring experts revealed that initial figures show that pothole related breakdowns have already doubled because the recent freezing water in road cracks had broken up surfaces already plagued by potholes.

Belfast Telegraph

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