BBC News

Potholes: NI motorists paid £1.7m in compensation

By Niall McCracken

image captionA public spending watchdog has raised concerns about the impact of funding shortfalls on Northern Ireland's roads

Years of underinvestment has led to a deterioration of Northern Ireland's roads, the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has said.

Ms Mallon was reacting to figures which show £1.7m in compensation was paid for vehicles damaged by potholes between 2016 and 2019.

The figures were obtained by BBC News NI under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

In 2019, £500,000 in compensation was paid to drivers.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionNichola Mallon said severe winter weather also impacted on the condition of roads

In 2018, more than £750,000 was paid out by the Department for Infrastructure.

Ms Mallon said: "Like so many people, I am very aware and concerned about the upkeep of our roads.

"Years of underinvestment as well as the impact of severe winter weather has led to deterioration in the road network and in recent years this has impacted on the level of vehicle damage compensation payments."

Top 5 roads in NI for defects in 2019

  • 118Shore Rd, Strangford (Shore Rd to Downpatrick Rd)

  • 115Browns Bay Rd, Islandmagee (Millbay Rd to Ballytober Rd)

  • 110Blackstaff Rd, Clough (Main St to Carricknab Rd)

  • 103Shore Rd, Belfast (Doagh Rd to Mount St)

  • 96Augher Point Rd, Newtownsville (Kiladroy Rd)

Source: Department for Infrastructure

The FOI statistics on the number of road defects across Northern Ireland were released to BBC News NI by the Department for Infrastructure.

Road defects include cracks and potholes recorded on carriageways, hard shoulders and lay-bys.

Lack of investment

The data shows in 2019, there were 102,521 road defects recorded across Northern Ireland, a decrease of 24,000 on the previous year.

It also confirmed the number of successful vehicle damage claims fell from 3,533 in 2018 to 1,334 in 2019.

Pothole vehicle damage compensation. .  .

The road with the largest number of defects (118) in 2019 was the Shore Road in Strangford, County Down.

This was followed by the Browns Bay Road in Islandmagee (115) and the Blackstaff Road in Clough (110).

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Last year Northern Ireland's public spending watchdog warned it would cost more than £1bn to deal with structural maintenance.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office published a report highlighting how a lack of investment was having a deteriorating effect on the overall condition of Northern Ireland's road network.

It also found a lack of funding had led to a significant reduction in the number of potholes being recorded and approved for repair.

Key Facts

Maintenance of NI's road network

  • 25,714 kmlength of road network

  • £1.2bnexpenditure needed to clear structural maintenance backlog

  • £92maverage annual funding spent on structural maintenance

Source: NI Audit Office

Commenting on the latest figures the minister said while the amount of compensation paid out had reduced within the last year, she acknowledged more investment was needed for a long-term solution.

"Frustratingly for a number of years now, not enough money has been allocated to my department's budget to maintain all of our roads and repairs are having to operate on a priority basis," she said.

"While I have inherited severe and challenging budget constraints, I am committed to finding solutions that deliver better for our communities and improve lives.

"I have impressed on the new finance minister the need for additional money to deal with this issue and other critical pressures. Sustainable infrastructure is key to improving lives and connecting communities.

"I will be looking to the finance minister and Executive colleagues for support and investment in order to get our roads, public transport and vital water service on a sustainable footing".

Related Topics

  • Potholes
  • Infrastructure

More on this story

  • Potholes: NI motorists receive more than £1m since 2016