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  • by Karma Loveday

Minister admits Northern Ireland Water's budget for capital spend is too low

Publicly-owned Northern Ireland Water's hopes for an increase in capital funding to address the province’s creaking water supply and wastewater infrastructure have been dashed.

Infrastructure minister, Nichola Mallon (pictured), whose Stormont department has responsibility for the company, has just announced its allocation for capital expenditure during 2020/21 will be £150 million. This means the company is in the same position as it was before this latest budget announcement. Mallon has admitted that departmental funding for NI Water “won’t meet the costs required to provide adequate water and wastewater services”.

The company said it would invest this allocation in projects and schemes which will continue to deliver improvement across Northern Ireland’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

Its latest six-year business plan currently being assessed by the Utility Regulator has identified a capital programme of £2.5bn including £0.5bn to start to address waste water, flooding and drainage problems in Greater Belfast alone.

Said NI Water: “Funding at this level will not solve all of the deficits that are currently in water and wastewater infrastructure here, but it will allow us to address 70 per cent of Northern Ireland’s waste water capacity problems whilst protecting drinking water and enhancing environmental protection.”

In some parts of the province new development cannot be approved because the water and wastewater infrastructure are at or beyond capacity.

Last month a major Belfast city centre aparthotel development was blocked partly because the local wastewater network would not have been able to cope.

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