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Flood risk residents ‘hung out to dry’ by department

THE Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has confirmed that it will not initiate any “viable engineering solutions” for homes in the Burndennett area which are perennially at risk from flooding.
 
The confirmation comes after a host of locals informed this newspaper of their plight earlier this month, a plight which was exemplified in August 2017 when people were evacuated, a number of homes flooded and thousands of pounds’ worth of damage caused.
 
More recently, pumps have had to be employed to divert water away from residences during periods of heavy rain and on several occasions the same householders have had to flee their properties.
 
According to residents, the flooding risks were amplified some years ago when the local ‘Presbyterian Bridge’ was redeveloped, a flood arch was closed and in-filling took place along the river.
 
They also claim that a riverside development, plans for which were passed in 2004, has also exacerbated the situation.
 
“Following the extreme flood event in August 2017, a flood study of the River was carried out by the Department to identify if there are any economically viable engineering solutions to mitigate the risk of flooding,” a spokesperson for DfI stated.
 
“However the study has revealed that there is not an economically viable flood alleviation scheme as the monetary benefits of a scheme to protect the eight residential properties estimated to be at risk of flooding are far outweighed by the cost of the most economical option to construct defences.
 
“Whilst the Department is aware that flood plain infilling has occurred for the development of a residential building, the Department has no enforcement powers to remove the infill material at this site.”
 
One of those under perpetual risk of flooding is Davy McPeters.
 
“We’re on our own, they’re not going to do anything,” he said.
 
“To protect the eight properties, I don’t know what it would cost. Even if they raised the wall a couple of feet that would help. It is (annoying) because we’re under threat all the time.
 
“We’re being hung out to dry.”
 
The residents are further “disgusted” with the response as the department has spent money to protect other areas.
 
“They can’t be bothered about us,” Mr McPeters continued.
 
“We’re waiting on the worst to happen all the time.”
 
Strabane independent councillor, Paul Gallagher, who has been working on behalf of residents added, “It very much looks like they’re being abandoned.
 
“They (DfI) admitted blocking the watercourse. My response would be they need to remedy what was done and implement the dry arch. This needs intervention. Rivers Agency, which has responsibility for our watercourses are saying these people are living under constant threat and still they’re doing nothing about it. It’s a disgrace.”
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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 15 Main Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AS