Work ongoing to remedy Sion Mills riverside damage, council told

FRUSTRATION has been voiced at the delay in carrying out remedial works on a section of the river walkway at Sion Mills which collapsed almost two years ago. 

A section of the 'weir walk' along the River Mourne first subsided in late June 2017 during a time of high water. Subsequent flooding has caused further erosion.

The hole in the walkway is currently surrounded by a metal fence which has been erected by council.

The recreational area is popular with walkers and young families and concerns have been expressed over the risk to the public should there be any further subsidence.

A year-and-a-half on local people are becoming increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress on works to remedy the damage to the banking, council has been told.

The matter was brought up at the final monthly meeting of the first term of Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) by Derg councillor, Alderman Derek Hussey.

He told the chamber: “I’m sure members are aware of the damage that was caused to walkways and riverside areas in August 2017 – a year-and-a-half ago. I’ve been made aware and I’m sure other elected representatives had been made aware of the continuing deterioration of the walkway in Sion Mills.

“Now, we’re talking back to 2017. There have been subsequent floods and continual erosion ongoing so I’m concerned as to why it’s taking so long to get that work done.”

Conor Canning, head of environment at council, explained that council have procured a team of specialist consultants to look at all the structures across the council area that were damaged as part of the flooding.

He continued: “We have had those initial reports back and at the moment we are reviewing them with the consultants. We’re at the stage where we need to engage with NIEA and Rivers Agency on the scope of works that we can undertake.

‘Further damage’

“We hope to do that over the next number of weeks and bring forward proposals in terms of how we repair the structures and prevent any further damage.

“I appreciate that it has taken some time but it is a complicated process and it needs to be done correctly in order to ensure that whatever works we do undertake are robust and will prevent any further erosion into the years ahead.

“We are working on this and by the time we get into the summer months, we would hope to have substantial progress in terms of how we remediate the damage caused.”

Alderman Hussey thanked the officer for the reply but added: “I’m sure that everyone in this chamber can understand the frustration.

“A year-and-a-half down the line and people cannot see action on the ground but I appreciate the work that has been done to date and I look forward to it coming to fruition.”

Local community worker, Andy Patton, who is also running as an independent candidate in the local council elections, echoed that frustration.

“That’s nearly two years ago now and it has still not been repaired. The cage is still around it and it’s very frustrating for local people. Those are the kind of issues that, with a local voice on council, would be to the fore.

“Sion Mills comes far down the list on a city council. This is the rural out here and it’s forgotten about.

“There’s a lot of damage to it. The floods that have succeeded the initial collapse have all caused more damage. When the full force of flood water hits, the banking is ate away more.

“It needs to be piled and needs to be constructed properly. The promises are not enough. Coming into the summer months and better weather I would call on council to bring those repairs forward,” he said.

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