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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Donal McMahon

Newry Mourne councillors asked to call for Stormont action on sewage infrastructure

Northern Ireland Water has called on councillors to put pressure on their party headquarters to get Stormont up and running amid fears the sewage system cannot cope without major investment.

Water chiefs provided a report to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) on Monday night detailing a six year £2.2bn plan requiring Stormont action.

The council was told that without the investment Northern Ireland’s need for 15,000 new houses by 2030 would be a mere pipe dream.

Read more: Belfast flood prone areas to get new sandbag containers, Council says

NI Water director of finance and regulation, Ronan Larkin described a waste water network that was under severe pressure.

“We need a major infrastructure upgrade to enable future economic growth,” said Mr Larkin.

“The Executive must secure the funding necessary to deliver the investment in drinking water and waste water management.

“You(councillors) have a role to play, what we are asking you to do is go to your party headquarters and bring the message to the parties in Stormont on behalf of your constituents.

“Ask yourself what can we do today and tomorrow to support a system that everyone of us uses everyday?

“Legally we can’t agree to any new housing in areas that we know the network at this time cannot support.

“Northern Ireland should not be disadvantaged to other regions of the UK or even the Republic of Ireland.

“This is as important an issue as health and education.”

It was also revealed that NI Water was beginning to use pioneering equipment and science to combat the huge rise in the cost of energy.

“We are a big energy user, there is no getting away from that,” said Mr Larkin.

“We are working on a pilot scheme that splits water into its two parts, oxygen and hydrogen.

“We can then use the hydrogen as an energy source.

“Our cost of using electricity has more than doubled from £30m to £70m and at one point we thought it would be over £100m.

“The longer we go without a budget, the worse it will be, we are currently £82m short,” added the director.

The well known demands for housing in the district were echoed in the chambers in support of NI Water’s financial needs.

Newry councillor, Roisin Mulgrew expressed her anger at the current political stalemate at Stormont.

“We desperately need more housing in Newry,” said Cllr Mulgrew.

“Newry has been red flagged for a number of years.

“We see that in planning from yourselves (NI Water) when it comes to waste water.

“It is a shame how the Assembly is not up and running.

“They are doing a huge disservice to the community.

“We are being held to ransom.”

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