Northern Ireland news

Report: 45,000 properties at risk of flooding as the country braces for more extreme weather

Storms are expected to become more extreme due to climate change
Michael McHugh

AROUND 45,000 properties in Northern Ireland are at risk of flooding as the country braces for stormier and more extreme weather, a report said.

The danger over coming years will be caused by heavy rainfall, rivers bursting their banks and coastal high waters.

The potential property damage bill in one year if all areas at risk flooded is £56 million, the review published by the department for infrastructure (DfI) said, although that does not mean that situation will arise every year.

A total of 45 areas are under threat but the largest cost is associated with the densely-populated greater Belfast area.

Climate change is expected to push the number of properties at risk up by 39 per cent by the 2080s.

The review added: "In Northern Ireland, it is expected that the amounts and intensities of rainfall will increase.

"There will be a trend towards stormier, more extreme weather conditions and coastal areas will be affected by rising sea levels.

"These changing conditions will increase the risk of flooding.

"Communities already at risk could see an increase in the severity or frequency of flooding and other communities not currently at risk may become affected."

In the past, climate change concerns have been expressed about the future of coastal tourist attractions like the World Heritage Giant's Causeway site and the protected sand dunes at Murlough Bay in Co Down.

Analysis was published recently by the DfI, the Northern Ireland flood risk assessment 2018, and produced by a group of consulting engineers.

It was produced to ensure that flood risk continues to be assessed and managed effectively, taking account of new and updated information and changes in risk.

It said approximately 45,000 or 5 per cent of the properties in Northern Ireland are located within a river or coastal floodplain or are located in areas at risk of flooding from heavy rainfall.

The assessment revealed an increase of more than 8,500 residential and 2,200 non-residential properties at risk from combined sources of flooding due to climate change.

Historically, Belfast has been subject to a number of significant flood events.

In January 2014, the highest tidal surge was recorded in Belfast Harbour. In June 2012, heavy rain affected over 1,500 homes and businesses.

The most recent significant flood occurrence in the Londonderry area was in August 2017 due to intense heavy rainfall.

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