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Sale of NI reservoir put on hold

Northern Ireland Water has halted a plan to sell a disused reservoir to the private sector after public opposition led to new options being explored.

Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveenRegional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen

Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen confirmed that the sale of the Ballysallagh Upper reservoir has been put on hold.

The reservoir is one of a number of sites which NI Water intends to dispose of because it is no longer in use.

However, there has now been interest from NI’s Forest Service in acquiring the site, which would mean it would remain in public hands.

Michelle McIlveen said: “I am aware of the local interest in the disposal of the Ballysallagh Upper reservoir and the adjacent land at Cairn Wood. It is a popular recreational site for local people and I have always been keen to ensure that the public continues to have access once the sale was completed. 

“NI Water did seek expressions of interest from the public sector, including the local Council, in relation to the sale, however, none were received.

"I am very pleased to say that the Forest Service has now expressed a strong interest to NI Water in purchasing this site, therefore in line with guidance on the disposal of assets, sale on the open market will no longer be pursued while this interest is explored. 

“I am hopeful that this development will enable the reservoir and lands to remain within public ownership and ensure that the general public will continue to have access to the woodland.”

A spokesman for Forest Service said: “Forest Service, which has been managing trees on the NIW land under management arrangements since 1978, has written to NIW confirming its interest in a potential transfer of ownership of the land to DARD. Forest Service is required to complete a business case that supports a transfer, and to engage the necessary processes that govern any asset transfer between departments. 

"The land already makes a considerable contribution to public recreation in the area, and the business case will need to establish the role of recreational partner providers in line with the well established partnership approach adopted elsewhere with local councils.”

-Michelle McIlveen is speaking at WWT's Water Northern Ireland conference in Belfast on February 25th. For more information visit: www.wwt-ni.net 

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Water resources
Tags: reservoir , Northern Ireland Water

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