Development could be halted by deteriorating sewers

Housing and office development will be halted across large parts of Northern Ireland by further deterioration in the sewers, builders have warned.

East Belfast and Duncrue in the north of the city require significant investment.

Around 80 wastewater treatment works are at or near full capacity, lobbyists for the construction industry said.

Developers are pressing for extra money to be allocated in next year’s Stormont public spending budget.

John Armstrong said: “The further deterioration of this situation will result in a halt to development across large swathes of Northern Ireland.”

Mr Armstrong is managing director of the Construction Employers’ Federation (CEF), which represents more than 800 companies and three-quarters of the industry in Northern Ireland.

In a letter to the head of the Civil Service, David Sterling, he wrote: “This cannot be allowed to happen.

“The risk of halting development on such a scale will impact the deliverability of much-needed new housing, public sector works and commercial development.

“It would also slow the recovery of the construction sector in uncertain economic times and make it nigh on impossible for any of the 11 local councils to deliver the economic aspirations within the local development plans that they are working on.”

He said “flagship” development programmes like the Belfast Transport Hub and a mother and children’s hospital would be unlikely to require significant funding until late next year.

He also said no construction activity will commence on enhancing the A5 between the border and Londonderry until roughly a year from now.

CEF chief John Armstrong said additional capital expenditure could be made available to Northern Ireland Water to tackle wastewater treatment works issues (CEF/PA)

It could be 12 months until construction begins on the York Street Interchange, part of the DUP’s deal to support the Tories in key Westminster votes.

Mr Armstrong said: “We believe the budget allocations for these projects must be in line with the realistic programme laid out above.

“In the context of there being an overall pot of £1.5 billion in capital expense available to spend in 2019/20, we believe additional capital expenditure could be made available to Northern Ireland Water for some of the wastewater treatment works issues we have detailed.”

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