Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today officially opened a pilot natural flood management scheme which includes a forest trail and outdoor educational space in the grounds of Belfast Castle.
The Minister was joined by Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Áine Groogan and pupils from the neighbouring Our Lady Of Lourdes Primary and Cavehill Primary Schools.
The scheme has been developed in partnership with Belfast City Council as part of the Living With Water in Belfast: An Integrated Plan for Drainage and Wastewater Management in Greater Belfast.
This demonstration project sees the creation of a number of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and Natural Flood Management (NFM) systems along with the new forest trail and outdoor educational space for visiting schools to use. These SuDS and NFM systems are designed to help reduce flooding naturally by slowing the flow of water in the existing watercourse and helping remove surface water from the drainage system.
Minister Mallon said:
“This demonstration project in Cave Hill Country Park shows how we can use our open green spaces to naturally manage water to reduce flooding whilst also protecting our environment. I very much enjoyed joining the children today in the new outdoor classroom and forest trails where nature itself provides the ideal surroundings for school groups to learn about the effects of flooding, the water cycle and the environment.
“Children are very aware of the climate emergency and interactive experiences like this help them to understand the importance of acting now to ensure they inherit a safer, cleaner and greener world. I hope other schools will also find this new resource helpful when educating our future generations about the importance of water and drainage.
“I also look forward to seeing the children’s artistic leaflets on the importance of water and drainage that will be displayed and further enhance this educational space.”
The Minister continued:
“Living With Water in Belfast proposes an integrated and collaborative approach to drainage and wastewater management which includes natural drainage solutions like this scheme alongside conventional hard infrastructure such as bigger pipes, larger treatment works and higher flood defences.
“The provision of this pilot Natural Flood Management scheme will help my Department develop new ways of managing the flow of water in our drainage systems that are already under pressure.”
Councillor Áine Groogan, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said:
“I was delighted to visit the new outdoor classroom today to mark the opening of this natural flood management scheme in the grounds of Belfast Castle. There is unfortunately significant pressure on the city’s drainage and wastewater infrastructure, which has serious implications for our citizens and the economy. This project and the wider Living With Water programme are therefore crucial to help protect the city from flooding and provide a cleaner and greener environment.”
“This supports Belfast’s Resilience Strategy - the city’s first climate plan, and the Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for Belfast, which were both launched in December 2020. Our ambition is to transition Belfast to an inclusive, zero-emissions, climate-resilient economy within a generation.”
The Minister concluded:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Belfast City Council, who have been working with my Department creatively and collaboratively to deliver this pilot project.”
Notes to editors:
- Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today officially opened a pilot natural flood management scheme which includes a forest trail and outdoor educational space in the grounds of Belfast Castle. The Minister was joined by Councillor Áine Groogan, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee plus P5 pupils Cara Hennessy and Ruairi Hennessy from neighbouring Our Lady Of Lourdes Primary School and Frank Wilson and Freya Mulligan from P4 Cavehill Primary School. The scheme has been developed in partnership with Belfast City Council as part of the Living With Water in Belfast: An Integrated Plan for Drainage and Wastewater Management in Greater Belfast.
- The Living With Water Programme seeks to revolutionise the way drainage and wastewater is managed in Northern Ireland by promoting greener catchment based solutions, such as sustainable drainage systems and river floodplain restoration works alongside the more conventional hard-engineered infrastructure, such as bigger pipes or higher flood defences. The programme for Belfast was recently published. Details are here: https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/living-water-belfast-plan
- Belfast has experienced a number of serious flooding events in recent years and the water quality in Inner Belfast Lough has been deteriorating due to a combination of pollution from agriculture and discharges from wastewater treatment works and Combined Sewer Overflows.
- Belfast Wastewater Treatment Works is having to treat a load that is 40% greater than it was designed for.
- Five of the six Wastewater Treatment Works that discharge into Belfast Lough need to be upgraded to help water quality and provide additional treatment capacity needed to enable development and growth.
- 50% of 340 Combined Sewer Overflows in the area have been assessed as very unsatisfactory because they result in pollution (raw sewage mixed with rainwater) entering the waters at the Lough when it rains. If not addressed future development may be constrained and flooding and pollution will intensify.
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