Thursday, 30 September 2010

Muir continues battle to save Reservoirs

I recently discovered that the six reservoirs in the Craigantlet area have been granted a temporary reprieve but that Portavoe Reservoir near Groomsport is scheduled for sale in 2011/12. Following my recent meeting with NI Water concerning their plans to sell the six reservoirs in the Craigantlet area I learned that NI Water don’t intend to start selling the Craigantlet Reservoirs until 2013 but that Portavoe Reservoir is scheduled for sale in 2011/12.

I therefore intend to step up my campaign to save the reservoirs and am seeking a meeting with the Department for Regional Development in order to halt NI Water’s plans to sell the picturesque Reservoirs.

At my meeting with NI Water on Friday 17 September 2010 I received some reassuring news. The Senior NI Water official informed me that they do not intend to dispose of the Craigantlet reservoirs next year. The two Reservoirs at Ballysallagh and Conlig are scheduled for sale in 2013/14 with the sale of the Church Road and Creighton’s Green Reservoirs scheduled for 2015/16. This temporary reprieve is however now overshadowed by the shocking news that Portavoe Impounding Reservoir is currently listed for disposal in 2011/12.

It is vital all seven Reservoirs remain in public hands. Since I made the public aware of NI Water’s plans to sell the reservoirs in the Craigantlet area I have been contacted by people across Northern Ireland concerned about NI Water’s plans to sell what are known as Impounding Reservoirs. For example, I was recently informed that Stoneyford Reservoir near Lisburn is no longer available for Angling from 17 February this year and will be sold in 2013/14. After making enquires I am also informed that Portavoe Reservoir between Groomsport and Donaghadee is scheduled for sale in 2011/12.

The issue concerning the sale of Reservoirs therefore requires a strategic and prompt response from government who can’t talk about wanting to “protect and enhance our environment and natural resources” in their Programme for Government or promoting sport and recreation and then wash their hands of NI Water’s plans to sell many reservoirs across Northern Ireland.

During my meeting it became apparent that since NI Water is now a Government owned Company (GoCo) the way they deal  with the disposal of assets is very different compared to government departments. I therefore intend to press the Department for Regional Development to intervene and ensure a more sensible course of action is taken. Responsibility for the assets should, I suggest, be transferred to the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development and or Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Sale of the Reservoirs by NI Water would, I believe, be both risky and short sighted. It is vital the Reservoirs are retained in public hands to ensure they are properly maintained and available for use by local Angling Clubs and the general public, if and where this can be safely accommodated.

No comments: