Minister announces improved access to water for rural homes

AGRICULTURE and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced 35 Letters of Offer thave issued to successful applicants to the Rural Borewells Scheme.

The scheme, which is one of a range of initiatives included in DARD’s ‘Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Framework’, has been developed in partnership with the Department for Regional Development (DRD) to help isolated rural homes in Northern Ireland not served by a mains water supply.

Minister O’Neill said the scheme is helping provide access to affordable safe drinking water for rural homes that are beyond the reach of the public network.

“People who live in isolated rural areas often face poor access to services such as wholesome water, something which the rest of us take for granted,” she continued.

“We have had a high level of interest in this innovative scheme and following application, assessment and site survey stages we have now progressed to the point where project activities have begun on the ground, with successful drilling of the first borewell already completed.

“The existing projects are on schedule to be completed by the 31st March with 19 more in the pipeline to proceed from 1st April. Following a review of scheme activity, I then plan to re-open for applications in early summer 2013.

“I look forward to many successful borewell projects being completed under the scheme and to it making a significant difference to the lives of rural householders.”

Commenting on progress of the scheme, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “I am greatly encouraged that the borewell scheme has attracted such a positive response. My department has worked to contribute to the development of this scheme and will continue to ensure funding to provide affordable access to a wholesome water supply for those who remain outside the reach of the public network. I anticipate that the scheme will reopen for application in early summer 2013.”