Belfast Telegraph

Fancy splashing out to buy your own reservoir?

Around 28 could be put up for sale in bid to raise cash

By Noel McAdam

Natural swimming pool with a discreet location. Low maintenance and good storage facilities, but may have some damp.

Even estate agents might be stretched to describe the properties set to flood the Northern Ireland market.

For the Executive has 28 reservoirs available for potential sale to raise cash for sinking government resources. In fact, one on offer is actually called Lough Money, near Downpatrick.

And in the current harsh economic climate, the Stormont salesmen may have to water down their prices...

So, with apologies to Through the Keyhole, who would want to splash out on a reservoir like this?

Could First Minister Peter Robinson, for example, use one to expand his carp collection ?

Or might one save deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness travelling time to go fishing?

The reservoirs have been earmarked as ‘surplus to requirements’ and could be put on the open market for leisure use, or possibly for farmers.

In one of his first actions after being confirmed as NI Water (NIW) chief executive, Trevor Haslett revealed his plan to dispose of some reservoirs — which was then approved by Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy.

And following endorsement by the Executive, he said: “Disposal may entail placing them on the open market.

“Any sale would be dependent on a number of factors, not least the market at the time and any expression of interest.

“In disposing of surplus lands NIW must ensure it gets the best price for the property, achieves value for money and also high standards of propriety.”

Revenue raised from any sales — and so far there seem to be few takers — could then be diverted into improving Northern Ireland’s deficient water and sewerage infrastructure.

In some cases they are being ‘let go’ because it would require substantial investment to ensure they comply with increasingly stringent drinking water regulations.

Others have become less reliable with age because water supplies can be interrupted and in a few areas increasing populations have necessitated the provision of alternative sources.

But Assembly member Peter Weir — who tabled questions on the sale — warned of the danger that the proposal “has not been thought through” and called for contingency plans.

“Some of these may seem to be surplus to requirements but I can’t see a lot of developers rushing in to buy them so we may not get what they are actually worth,” said Mr Weir, a member of Stormont’s environment committee.

“I think there is a need for some level of contingency plan so that it is not simply about getting these off our hands.

“It could be, for example, that angling clubs could be involved in using some of these or they could be in areas of natural beauty or of use in terms of tourism.

“We have also seen in England where, despite heavy rainfall, some areas have still been suffering from drought. Now we are not in that situation in Northern Ireland yet, but is there a case to be put for a back-up system.”

NI Water said: “The use that any reservoir could be put to would be at the discretion of the purchaser or new owner and subject to the usual planning rules and restrictions.

“However, one potential use would be for leisure purposes — for example fishing or boating — all depending on the size of the reservoir.

“We would like to emphasize that NI Water must, when declaring a reservoir surplus to requirements, ensure that any disposal will not have an adverse impact on current or future provision of water supply services.”

Factfile

Ten uses for a used reservoir:

1 Exclusive angling

2 An impress-your-friends fish pond

3 Water sports (some)

4 Personal wine lake

5 Extra storage space

6 Silage pit

7 Submarine garage

8 Synchronised swimming training

9 Messing about in a boat

10 Private water supply in case of a drought (unlikely)

... and here’s where they are

Lough Cowley, Portaferry

Quoile Upper, Broughshane

Quoile Lower, Broughshane

Craigahullier, Portrush

Portavo, Donaghadee

Crockaclaven, Clogher,

Co Tyrone

Ballyversall, Coleraine

Boomers, Lisburn

Ballylane, Armagh

Ballydoolagh, Enniskillen

Stoneyford, Lisburn area

Crieghtons Green,

Craigantlet/North Down area

Ballysallagh Upper,

Craigantlet/ North Down area

Ballysallagh Lower,

Craigantlet/ North Down area

Conlig Upper, Craigantlet

Conlig Lower, Craigantlet Church Road, Holywood area

Knockbracken, Belfast area

Ballyboley, Larne area

Dunalis, Coleraine

Killea, Londonderry area

Sullotober Pond, Carrickfergus

Ballintemple, Killeavy Co Armagh

Leathemstown, Dundrod

Capagh, Dungannon

Altmore, Pomeroy

Lough Money, Downpatrick area

Fly Lough, Cookstown

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