Northern Ireland

Flooding: Report line needs to improve, say auditors

Portstewart Harbour during gale-force winds Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Portstewart Harbour during gale-force winds

More needs to be done to improve the phone system used by the public to report flooding, according to a report by auditors.

The number of calls abandoned by people who could not get through during flooding in 2015 was 15% - better than a peak of 27% in 2012.

While the report found much good work had been done, it identified areas that needed more work.

Delivering flood defences on time and on budget must also improve, it said.

The report was carried out by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which assesses the River Agency's effectiveness in identifying and reducing flood risk.

Sea surges

Comptroller and auditor general Kieran Donnelly said there was "scope to improve the performance of the flooding incident line".

While the agency had spent £33m on flood defences over the last five years, he said, most had come in late and over budget or both.

In one case a section of work at a stream in Mount Vernon in north Belfast had cost £590,000 instead of the projected £189,000.

New flood walls at Moneymore, County Londonderry, cost £2.2m instead of the expected £1.2m.

The report found that some of the overspend appeared to be due to overly optimistic initial estimates.

Mr Donnelly said while recommendations had been made to prevent this happening in the future, it would be several years before it could be judged whether they had worked.

Around 43,000 homes in Northern Ireland are at risk of flooding from either rivers or the sea - about 5% of the total.

The Rivers Agency, which is part of the Department of Infrastructure, manages 400km (248 miles) of culverts, 107km (66 miles) of earthen flood embankments and 26km (16 miles) of sea defences.

There have been a series of flooding incidents in recent years caused by localised downpours, sea surges and large storms.

In 2012 about 1,600 homes were damaged when south and east Belfast were badly affected.

Related Topics

More on this story