Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Muir urges NI Water to halt scandalous Reservoir sale plans

I call upon NI Water to halt their plans to sell Reservoirs across North Down. Last Thursday over one hundred people attended my Public Meeting to discuss NI Water's plans to flog seven Reservoirs across North Down. Representatives from the Ulster Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Woodland Trust provided information followed by an extensive discussion chaired by Adam Harbinson.

People were shocked to hear that NI Water plan to sell reservoirs on the open market with many calling upon them to halt their sale plans forthwith, especially in relation to Portavo Reservoir, near Groomsport, which is scheduled for sale during 2011/12.

I echo these calls and urge NI Water to withdraw their sale plans. This would allow people and organisations to explore how the reservoirs can enjoy a brighter future in the hands of people who care rather than allowing them to be sold to the highest bidder on the open market.

I find it scandalous that NI Water are prepared to contemplate selling these reservoirs whilst many homes across Northern Ireland were recently without water. The water crisis must have a significant bearing on the mind of NI Water and convince the organisation that sell-offs are the last thing people need. Selling the reservoirs could also endanger a vast array of wildlife which lives in the Reservoirs whilst also reduce the opportunity for recreational activities such as Angling and Countryside walks.

I also used the meeting to update people on what he has found out about the sale plans including information obtained which indicates that a company is interested in buying Ballysallagh Reservoirs in order to establish a Hydro Electric Power Station.

Renewable Energy should be encouraged, but any plans for such a power plant in the Craigantlet Hills shouldn't be shrouded in secrecy and only uncovered as a result of my Freedom of Information request. Details concerning this proposal plus any other potential uses should be published to allow the public to give their views.

An extensive Campaign Plan is now in place including a petition which will soon be online at http://www.andrewmuir.net/ for people to sign once the content is agreed. In the meantime please don't hesitate to join my Save our Reservoirs email list by emailing mail@andrewmuir.net

North Down and Ards Council's have also agreed to establish a working group to thwart plans to sell Portavo Reservoir near Groomsport. I will sit on this group along with Cllr Ian Henry and Cllr John Montgomery from North Down Borough Council. The battle to Save our Reservoirs continues apace.