Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon calls for public views on proposals for updated water, flooding and drainage legislation to help tackle climate change

Date published: 11 March 2022

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has today launched a public consultation on a number of revisions and improvements to legislation in relation to water, flooding and drainage to help tackle the climate emergency.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon

Climate change has contributed to an increased likelihood of warmer drier summers, milder wetter winters and an increased frequency of impactful storms. This poses new challenges for how we all manage, use, and treat the precious water resources we all share.

Minister Mallon said:

“Extreme weather conditions that come with climate change pose risks to people’s homes, businesses, safety and health. In order to tackle these threats we must revise, improve and update our legislation on water, flooding and drainage.

“Some of the key objectives we are seeking to achieve include reducing the pollution of our watercourses, strengthening our resilience against extreme weather events such as drought and flooding and working towards more environmentally friendly and green solutions to managing our precious water resources.”

The wider use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), the ability to store storm water in green/open areas during heavy rainfall, and enabling NI Water to adopt and maintain some privately owned drainage infrastructure constructed pre-1973 are all being considered.

The Minister continued:

“Some of these measures under consideration offer opportunities for reducing flooding in areas at risk. The planning and creation of more SuDS in development areas will help slow the flow of water entering our sewers during times of heavy rainfall and will reduce out-of-sewer flooding. We are also consulting on continuing the Homeowner Flood Protection Grant Scheme beyond its initial pilot phase.

“In addition to offering protection to those in flood-risk areas, using SuDS and other works to help reduce the volume of storm water that enters combined sewers will reduce discharges from combined sewer overflows that can pollute our watercourses.  This consultation is also examining other ways to better protect our environment from pollution, such as by improving how misconnections can be found and fixed.

“It is important that we gather the views of members of the public and stakeholders on the proposed legislation and I encourage everyone to submit their views. Your responses to these proposed changes will help to guide how we manage periods of water shortage and high or excessive demand for water as well as flood management which will enable sustainable drainage systems to better protect our environment.”

The consultation was launched today for a period of 12 weeks. Closing date is 3 June 2022 and it is available at: Water Flooding and Sustainable Drainage Consultation.

Notes to editors: 

  1. There are nine policy proposals included within the consultation as follows:
  • Powers for NI Water to implement wider water shortage measures;
  • Powers for NI Water to enter onto private land to carry out works, for flood risk management purposes including construction of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS);
  • Provision of an enabling power for the Department to introduce arrangements to encourage developers to use sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) as the preferred drainage solution in new developments;;
  • Powers for NI Water to adopt certain drainage infrastructure, which is in private ownership and was constructed prior to 1st October 1973;
  • Enhanced powers for NI Water to deal with drain and sewer misconnections;
  • Powers for NI Water to register Article 161 Agreements in the Statutory Charges Register;
  • Powers for the Department to grant fund Homeowner Flood Protection measures;
  • Powers to provide for easements and additional compensation arrangements for affected landowners to facilitate flood storage; and
  • Technical amendments to enable future amendment of subordinate legislation - Powers for the Department to amend, update or revoke the Drainage (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 and the Water Environment (Floods Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009.
  1. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at:
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