North Down Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir has welcomed news that NI Water have agreed to defer the sale of Portavo Reservoir for a year until 2012 at the earliest.
The Alliance Councillor has been Leading Change and championing the campaign to Save Portavo and other Reservoirs.
The Alliance Representatives have also voiced their concern 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.
Councillor Muir 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 led by me 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”
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.
Continuing, Cllr Muir stated “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”.
Councillor Muir recently launched a number of initiatives to save our reservoirs including a petition at www.andrewmuir.net and a plan to deluge the Minister with letters of objection following a well attended Public Meeting convened by Cllr Muir and Chaired by Alliance representative Adam Harbinson, which attracted over one hundred people including North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, MLAs and Councillors.
“Government must take the lead in exploring and consulting upon an alternative financially sustainable future for the Reservoirs. It cannot be left to the community and relevant wildlife organisations to try and map out a new future for the Reservoirs without any steer from government. Such a future must attract widespread support from the community, ensure security of supply, minimise flood risks, protect wildlife and the environment generally whilst also allowing users to continue their current activities in a safe manner.
People are strongly against NI Water’s plans to sell seven reservoirs across North Down on the open market including Portavo Reservoir near Groomsport. Many people have contacted me angry that NI Water has the audacity to consider sale of the Reservoirs when many homes across Northern Ireland were recently without water. A new future must be found which doesn’t involve them being flogged to the highest bidder”
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.
Responding to this information, Councillor Muir stated “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.
“Whilst government acknowledges this gap in regulation work is still ongoing to put the necessary legislation in place. With the Minister acknowledging the existence of 104 private reservoirs which could impact upon 36,000 people if failure occurred plans to sell Portavo Reservoir should be shelved until all issues can be fully considered and resolved. Passing more reservoirs into private hands at this time would clearly worsen the flood risk.
“I intend to hold a meeting 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 will be most welcome. Please contact Andrew via email firstname.lastname@example.org Every little helps, from getting people to sign the Save our Reservoirs petition at www.andrewmuir.net to lobbying the Minister and MLAs together we can fight NI Water’s plans to sell Portavo and other Reservoirs.”