Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Water to seek extra funding

Running tap
Image caption Ni water has made a profit of £133m this year.

Northern Ireland Water is to ask for more money from the Executive to help deal with flooding.

The publicly-funded company said it needed the extra cash to invest in infrastructure.

Northern Ireland Water's profits rose by £21m to £133m this year, all of which goes back to the Department for Regional Development.

The company's finance director, Ronan Larkin, said extra investment was essential.

"In Belfast over the past number of years we invested in the Belfast sewer tunnel and that did work effectively during some of the recent flooding," Mr Larkin said.

"There's further investment needed and we would hope to secure additional funding from government in the years ahead to continue to invest at the appropriate rate, and we would - as is sometimes necessary - bid for more money as well."

Cover costs

The company paid less tax after the chancellor lowered the corporation tax level in April - that accounted for about £10m of the extra profit.

It also received more money this year from the Executive and from businesses to cover water costs.

A quirk in the way the company has to report its accounts means that every time a new housing development is added to their network it must be inserted as extra income rather than an asset.

When they are making financial plans for the future, Mr Larkin said climate change is a key consideration. The bad flooding over the last few summers are now being viewed as a regular occurrence which needs to be planned for, and accounted for in advance.

Future

The company has undergone serious upheavals during the last year within its board of directors. Since four board members were sacked and fought against allegations of influencing procurement policy, the company has appointed new members and now has a complete executive and non-executive board again.

In September, the Regional Development Minister at the time, Conor Murphy, suggested that NI Water could be re-nationalised, but there is also pressure from other members of the Executive that it moves in the opposite direction, towards full privatisation.

Ronan Larkin was not keen to be drawn on such a controversial topic, and said that that was a matter for the politicians to decide.

"Any decisions around taking NI Water forward on a different model, whether it's privatised or something else are really matters for the Assembly Executive," he added.

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