Who foots the bill for Carnlough man’s disappearing garden?

Charlie McCloy and Cllr James McKeown in Mr McCloy's disappearing garden. Behind them, the damaged path overhangs a 20-foot drop in to a gully which they say was caused by water erosion. INLT 15-616-CON
Charlie McCloy and Cllr James McKeown in Mr McCloy's disappearing garden. Behind them, the damaged path overhangs a 20-foot drop in to a gully which they say was caused by water erosion. INLT 15-616-CON
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CARNLOUGH man Charlie McCloy’s Largy Road home affords breathtakingly beautiful views across the bay to Straidkilly Point and The Maidens.

It is an unrivalled location, with a steep path through the back garden enabling access directly on to the Coast Road. However, the retired builder fears losing the entire garden to erosion and he has no doubt as to the source of the damage: storm water from Largy Road that was piped through the property for several years.

Where once there was a verge shoring up the concrete path, there is now a sheer 20-foot drop to one side,

Pointing to a series of cracked steps about halfway along the path, Charlie said he couldn’t venture any further because it has been undermined.

“We can’t use the path any more because there’s nothing under there and it’s just too dangerous,” he said. “My sisters’ children used to use it to go down to the sea but we can’t let them on it now because it could give way at any time.”

Charlie said the deep gully that scars the garden was created by years of water erosion, causing soil slippage down to the coast. And he has serious concerns for the future, revealing: “My biggest worry is subsidence.”

Recently, DRD Roads Service carried out a drainage scheme, which diverted the surface water away from Charlie’s property and into a culvert about 100 yards down the road.

“That’s where it should have been running to all those years,” said Carnlough councillor James McKeown.

“I’ve been here when it has been raining and the sound of the water that was being piped under the garden was frightening,” added the Sinn Fein representative.

Charlie explained: “The Roads Service people did a dye test that proved the water coming out at my end of the pipe was coming off the road. They blocked up the pipe and diverted the water, but now I’m left with the damage that has been caused by years of erosion.

“It’s a different story if you cause it yourself, but when it was caused by somebody else’s water I think it’s their duty to fix it up.”

“Roads Service were to come back and carry out a survey, but they haven’t done it,” said Cllr McKeown, who suggested a scheme entailing infilling and possibly a gabion restraint will be required to make the property safe again.

“In my opinion, Roads Service have accepted responsibility, that it was their water that was piped in here and their water that has caused all this damage.”

A DRD spokesperson told the Larne Times: “DRD Roads Service took a decision to undertake a drainage scheme to redirect a small amount of surface water which was being discharged after meeting with the householder in February, 2012.” He added: “DRD Roads Service does not currently plan to carry out any further work within Mr McCloy’s property” and claimed: “The erosion caused by water on the property would exist regardless of whether DRD Roads Service carried out the scheme or not. It is not a consequence of work DRD Roads Service undertook.”