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Northern Ireland water spend delayed


SUPPLIERS AND contractors in the water industry expressed frustration this week at the slow progress of work in Northern Ireland's water sector.

'There is a lot of work to be done in Northern Ireland but it is slow coming through, ' said British Water director Paul Mullord.

It is understood that the failure to begin charging for water services is to blame for the slow progress. A new government-owned company was due to take over from Water Services this month but it is still being set up and is not expected to take over until April 2007.

Restructuring of the existing water services organisation began in 2004 and involves getting rid of 600 staff by 2010.

Over the next 20 years the company will deliver investment worth £3bn, which is being undertaken through a variety of delivery mechanisms from public private partnerships to design and build and work specific frameworks (NCE 19 May 2005).

But contractors say that this work has been slow to materialise.

Department for Regional Development minister Shaun Woodward blamed the delay on difficulties in setting up a water and sewerage system that is fair for all.

'The additional time before introduction will allow careful revision of the scale of protection for vulnerable groups to be carefully considered. It will also allow time to develop a policy on metering'.

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