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Future infrastructure plans for Ards and North Down Borough Council outlined by NI Water

03 December 2020 15:00

NI Water attended Ards and North Down Borough Council recently, to update representatives on infrastructure plans going forward and the level of investment needed for the Council area.

In its future growth plans, Ards and North Down Borough Council has anticipated that by 2030, it will need around 8,000 new houses. Large towns such as Newtownards and Bangor as well as smaller towns such as Ballygowan, Comber, Donaghadee, Holywood, Portaferry will be the main Hubs for growth, with predictions that 7,500 new jobs will be needed. 

In this context, NI Water’s Head of Investment Management, Stephen Blockwell, set out the funding situation facing NI Water:

“The level to which NI Water can invest in its infrastructure is not the result of the company’s commercials and finances; rather it is set according to what the Executive decides to allocate to NI Water from within its annual Northern Ireland Capital budget and for many years the Executive has not allocated what has been needed. There is no additional capability for increased investment outside of this mechanism and no other Water Utility in the UK is required to operate in this way.

“Due to this historical under-investment major parts of our cities and over 100 towns across Northern Ireland currently have little or no capacity left in their sewer and wastewater systems. 

“For Ards and North Down Borough Council, this could lead to a significant impact on the Council’s growth plans.  New housing developments and employment opportunities have been identified; however, without adequate sewer networks and upgrades to Wastewater Treatment Works, much of this development and economic growth may not be able to happen.

“Our infrastructure plans over the 2021 – 27 period (known as PC21) for the Ards and North Down Borough Council area requires c.£126 million pounds of investment to upgrade wastewater assets, and this is over and above essential base maintenance investment during PC21.  The investment in upgrades will make significant inroads into addressing the sewer and wastewater capacity issues currently hindering new housing and business development.”

Dr Blockwell concluded:   

“Significant and sustained investment is needed for wastewater and water infrastructure across Northern Ireland. NI Water knows all of the Councils’ growth ambitions, we know what needs done in each Council area and we have the plan and the skills to deliver it. However, the Executive needs to allocate adequate levels of capital investment to NI Water. If future levels of capital investment continue at historic or current levels there will be significant constraints on economic growth, damage to the environment and risk to people’s health.”

A number of slides and maps showing current sewer and wastewater issues and proposed investment in Ards and North Down Council were presented at the meeting.

Further information can be found on our website


Notes to Editors:
  • The Utility Regulator has published its draft determination of what it believes Northern Ireland Water should deliver in both levels of service and capital programmes during the next six years from 2021 to 2027. The Regulator’s draft determination also stipulates the level of costs and finance required to be invested by Northern Ireland Water’s shareholder, the Department for Infrastructure, on behalf of the Assembly Executive over the next six years, beginning in April 2021  
  • PC21 Business Plan Fast Read is available to view: click here
  • Examples of risks to people’s health includes: risks associated with overflows from manholes into public highways or gardens, driveways; high frequency of discharges from sewers reaching the sea. This could affect blue flag status and potentially lead to increased infections such as ear infections for surfers and swimmers.

For further information, please contact NI Water’s Press Office email

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