I welcome news that the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development has commenced work concerning a new Reservoirs Bill to 'ensure reservoirs are managed and operated to minimise the risk of failure thereby protecting human life, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity from flooding.'.
The lack of regulatory legislation was something I previously raised during 2010 following an Assembly Question by Alliance MLA Dr Stephen Farry. This revealed that 104 private reservoirs exist which could impact upon 36,000 people if the dam burst.
I am therefore glad that progress is now occurring to address this problem with Public Consultation planned during early 2012 and legislation in place by 2013. I look forward to attending the next stakeholder meeting and finding out more about this proposed legislation which will hopefully reduce the risk of total dam failures.
Until legislation is in place no safeguards will exist to ensure private owners of Reservoirs maintain such facilities to an appropriate standard in order to protect the safety of people and property nearby. I therefore again call upon NI Water to postpone their planned sale of Reservoirs in North Down and beyond until the Reservoirs Bill is enacted and all alternative uses are explored other than selling these environmental havens to the highest bidder.