Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Muir welcomes temporary reprieve for Portavo Reservoir but warns of flood risk

Cllr Muir at Portavo Reservoir
I welcome news that NI Water have agreed to defer the sale of Portavo Reservoir for a year until 2012 at the earliest.

I am however concerned that thousands of homes could be flooded if NI Water proceed with their plans to sell Reservoirs across North Down including Portavo Reservoir near Groomsport.

I learned of the temporary reprieve for Portavo Reservoir from a campaign supporter who has been informed by NI Water that;

"Due to some minor outstanding legal issues which need to be resolved, we have decided to defer placing Portavo Impounding Reservoir on the open market in 2011/12. This may provide an opportunity for interested parties to discuss various options surrounding its sale."

I welcome news that NI Water have decided to temporarily halt the proposed sale of Portavo Reservoir. The impact of a collective co-ordinated approach has, I believe, already delivered a result but the long term future of Portavo and other Reservoirs is still uncertain. I am particularly grateful for the support provided by Lady Hermon MP.

Statement from Lady Hermon MP at http://sylviahermon.org/news/2011/02/10/disposal-of-portavo-reservoir-delayed/

Plans still exist to sell Reservoirs in the next few years at Portavo, Ballysallagh (Craigantlet), Conlig and both Church Road and Creighton's Green in Holywood. I am therefore now seeking a meeting with the Water Minister to discuss how the Department for Regional Development and NI Water intend to proceed. It is imperative that government takes the lead and ends the uncertainty surrounding the future ownership of the reservoirs.

I recently launched a number of initiatives to save our reservoirs including a petition at http://www.andrewmuir.net/ and a plan to deluge the Minister with letters of objection following a well attended Public Meeting convened by me and Chaired by Alliance representative Adam Harbinson, which attracted over one hundred people including North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, MLAs and Councillors.

News that NI Water intend to delay the sale of Portavo Reservoir coincides with shocking development that no powers are in place to regulate the safety of private reservoirs.

North Down Alliance MLA Dr Stephen Farry recently found this out after asking the Agriculture Minister to outline her responsibilities in relation to regulation of Private Reservoirs.

I am shocked that NI Water were considering sale of reservoirs such as Portavo when no appropriate legislation is in place to ensure future owners maintain the reservoirs in an appropriate manner to ensure nearby homes aren't flooded in the event of failure.

A meeting will be held in the Groomsport area soon to gather together people who want to assist Andrew and I to stop the sale of Portavo and other Reservoirs.

Anyone interested in coming along and helping in the Campaign to Save our Reservoirs are most welcome. Please contact me via 07813 945411 or email mail@andrewmuir.net

Every little helps, from getting people to sign the Save our Reservoirs petition at http://www.andrewmuir.net/ to lobbying the Minister and MLAs together we can fight NI Water's plans to sell Portavo and other Reservoirs.


Statement from NI Water;

Portavo Impounding Reservoir has been taken out of operational service and is currently in the process of being declared surplus to requirements.


In identifying and declaring land suitable for disposal, we must ensure that any disposal will not have an adverse impact on the current or future provision of water and wastewater services, which this is the case with Portavo Impounding Reservoir.


The general principle that public bodies limit their holdings of any land and buildings to the minimum required for their present and clearly foreseen responsibilities applies to Northern Ireland Water.

Due to some minor outstanding legal issues which need to be resolved, we have decided to defer placing Portavo Impounding Reservoir on the open market in 2011/12. This may provide an opportunity for interested parties to discuss various options surrounding its sale.

Should this sale proceed, we are obliged to obtain the best price and value for money and this will, almost certainly, require placing the site on the open market. Once any sale takes place, management of this site will be the responsibility of the new owner.

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