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Lack of water infrastructure funding is blighting development, warn builders

Words: Roger Milne
Water / iStock-582280690

Northern Ireland’s construction industry has given its starkest warning yet that failure to invest in water infrastructure is holding back housing and other development as well as contributing to the recession facing the sector.

The Construction Employers Federation (CEF) has conducted a survey of its members that shows the most challenging conditions since 2012.

Federation managing director John Armstrong said: “The industry is reporting alarming increases in redundancies and projected redundancies.”

He explained that lack of a Stormont Executive and uncertainty about budgets for public works was a significant factor.

Armstrong said there was an issue with NI Water's budget that had a knock-on effect for housebuilding and development in general.

“The consistent underfunding of NI Water has led to a drastic curtailment in much-needed wastewater treatment works upgrades right across Northern Ireland.

“There is, consequently, a significant slowdown in the number of new homes being started and completed.

“We and our members find it staggering to the point of absurdity how little political focus there is on fixing this issue, given how critical it is to development of all types, not just new homes,” he added.

“Fundamentally, the price control process that NI Water is currently engaged in for the period 2021-27 is going to make the situation no better. For as long as its governance and financial model remains as it is, we will continue to face a funding black hole which will make practically all of our collective infrastructure goals unachievable.”

Image credit | iStock