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Planning to build? Contact NI Water first

16 February 2024 16:08

 | NI Water News

It doesn’t matter if your plans are large or small, you must talk to NI Water before you submit your planning application.  That is the advice from NI Water as it launches a campaign to highlight the steps developers, small builders and individuals planning to build or extend must follow.

Davy McGrath, Head of Developer Services, NI Water, explained:

“Developers, builders and individual households are already seeing the impact of our constrained sewer network with multiple planning applications being recommended for rejection.  Therefore, it is vital anyone trying to build contacts us early so we can review their plans to see if there are short term local solutions that can be implemented. 

“Warnings about our struggling infrastructure were clearly highlighted with the phrase ‘no drains, no cranes’.  We are now seeing these warnings come to fruition. 

“Therefore, it is vital you engage early with NI Water when planning to build or extend.”

This can be done by filling out a Pre-Development Enquiry Form.  This will help NI Water to identify any potential issues with plans that we can help resolve in advance of submitting your planning application.

If you apply for planning permission in an area where there are capacity issues, we will have to recommend the application is turned down until you engage with us.  This is to ensure we can continue to protect the environment.  So please, engage with us early to avoid delays to your project and potential disappointment if your application is refused.

Further information on how to engage with the Developers Services Team and the ‘Pre-Development Enquiry Form’ can be found at


For further information, please contact


Northern Ireland as a region is now being presented with a stark set of choices:

  • Protect nature by applying a handbrake to economic development; or
  • Grow the economy unsustainably with the resulting increase in pollution year on year; or
  • Prioritise funding for wastewater infrastructure to protect nature and grow prosperity.

Northern Ireland as a region already applies lower environmental standards in relation to wastewater than any other part of the UK - and we are struggling to meet these requirements.

Having a fully functioning wastewater system is clearly vital for a successful economy.  Homes, businesses, and public buildings must all be able to connect.

Belfast requires significant levels of investment in its wastewater system:

  • The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has agreed an extension to the current consent at our Belfast main treatment works on the understanding that our PC21 plan to invest in additional capacity at the works goes ahead as approved by the Utility Regulator. This work is currently programmed to come online in 2027. This is ahead of 2030 when we estimate that the current rate of planning applications will use up all existing capacity.

  • Investment in this treatment facility is only one of 182 sewerage network facilities in Belfast that require investment to increase capacity and reduce pollution.

Seven major towns and cities are significantly impacted by capacity constraints with a further two under assessment. Numerous smaller towns, villages and hamlets are also experiencing various levels of constraint as the system is increasingly unable to accommodate any further development.

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