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South Down MP helps NI Water cap off second phase of Mourne Wall repairs

12 March 2024 12:08

 | NI Water News

NI Water was delighted to be joined in the Mournes last week by Chris Hazzard MP, who helped roll the last capping stone into place to round off the second phase of the Mourne Wall Restoration Project.

More than 300 repairs have been completed across 15 mountains during the latest phase of the project, bringing the total number of collapses fixed on the 22-mile-long structure to over 900 since the project began in 2017.

Similar to phase one, the project team from RPS, GEDA, Thomas Rooney & Sons, and with guidance from Mourne Heritage Trust, have completed phase two repairs well ahead of schedule. 

Commenting on the early completion of phase two, Michael Donnelly, NI Water Senior Project Manager said: This latest phase of repairs was originally programmed to be undertaken over a four-year period but has been completed two years ahead of schedule. This is due largely to the excellent stakeholder relations established and the lessons learned during phase one of the restoration work, such as more accurate weather monitoring using modern weather apps and the development of efficient helicopter lifting plans.”

Accompanying Mr Hazzard up Slieve Donard to complete the last repair, Michael commented: “Every day they are on the mountain, the restoration team face a hike of up to 6km carrying their tools and supplies – including 6ft planks – before they start a day’s physical labour. We got to sample a small part of their daily efforts today in completing this repair on Slieve Donard. While the missing capping stones are brought to the required location by helicopter, there is still the arduous task of placing the huge stones on top of the wall. Today, using the same methods that the original wall builders would have used over 100 years ago, the last of the 120kg capping stones was rolled up the plank and into place. It was great to have Chris on site to help place the last stone and mark the successful completion of another phase of the award-winning Mourne Wall Restoration Project.

“I would like to pay tribute to the entire project team for another monumental effort in repairing and protecting this iconic landmark and reaching another key milestone so quickly, and take this opportunity to thank Mourne Heritage Trust, NIEA, National Trust and Trustees of Mourne for their guidance and assistance throughout the project to date.”

Looking ahead, Mr Donnelly added: “Phase two of the Mourne Wall Restoration Project was funded through NI Water’s current capital works programme. We are aware that the wall may suffer further deterioration in the future and NI Water is committed to undertaking subsequent surveys and, subject to funding, carrying out repairs during the next 6-year capital works programme which commences in April 2027.”

Commenting on social media after his visit, Mr Hazzard said that he was delighted to place the final stone on the Mourne Wall to complete phase 2 of the restoration project and paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the NI Water project team in completing the work.


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Notes to editor:

Hand built by the Belfast Water Commissioners between 1904 and 1922 to mark and protect the 9,000-acre water catchment which feeds the Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs, the wall has been a listed building since 1996 and today is in the ownership of NI Water.

As part of NI Water’s commitment to the ‘Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estates’, we undertook surveys along the entire stretch of the wall during 2016 and set in place funding for a programme of wall and path repairs to get underway in 2017.

Phase two funding brings to over £4m the investment made by NI Water to date, to protect the 100-year-old wall and ensure that it continues to be a sturdy guide for many years to come.

Over 600 repairs were completed across 12 mountains as part of phase one wall repairs.

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