Earlier this month Councillor Armstrong – along with other Ards Peninsula Councillors – toured the flood-damaged area with the Rivers Agency and a Council Officer, where they discovered clear evidence of thousands of pounds of flood damage.
Yet despite this the Rivers Agency has since confirmed not enough properties were affected, resulting in no further investment to improve costal defences.
Criticising Sinn Fein’s DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill, Councillor Kellie Armstrong said: “So much for DARD’s commitment to rural proofing policy to ensure rural dwellers are not adversely impacted. Minister O’Neill’s criteria confirms you need to have a more densely populated area flooded before Rivers Agency’s calculations will allow coastal defences to be improved.
“Locals cannot get household insurance because of flooding. Our local residents are out thousands of pounds putting right the damage caused by flooding. Despite evidence that the community needs help Rivers Agency simply say ‘calculation says no’. When asked if the calculation included rural proofing Rivers Agency again said ‘no’.
“It’s time for the Minister to make good on her commitment to roll-out rural proofing policies within her own Department. I extend an open invitation for the Minister to come to the Ards Peninsula to speak to business and home owners impacted by flooding. She can tell them to their faces they are ‘not economically viable.
“Rivers Agency has claimed on three premises around the Saltwater Brig area that were affected by flooding. I ask all business and home owners whose premises were flooded during the 2013/2014 tidal surge and storm to write to me confirming their name, address and depth of water in their premises. I will pass this evidence on to Rivers Agency to encourage them to take action to improve coastal defences. You can email email@example.com, pm via facebook at Councillor Kellie Armstrong or call me 07739 371558.”