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Committee emphasises importance of reservoir safety ahead of new legislation

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today visited Kiltonga Reservoir in Newtownards to highlight the importance of reservoir safety.

The visit was ahead of the Committee’s consideration of important new legislation from DARD which will focus on ensuring that reservoirs are managed and operated to minimise the risk of flooding.

Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said: “The Committee is very pleased to know that the Department is working on a new Reservoirs Bill that will protect the public, environment and economic activity as well as community and cultural assets.

"Reservoirs are an important and useful part of our local communities.  Many are extensively used by the local communities for a wide range of activities from fishing, walking to family outings.

"The proposed legislation must ensure a balance between maintaining this type of activity and protecting against flooding.

"The upcoming Reservoirs Bill will eventually make its way to the Committee for in depth scrutiny, and today’s visit to the Kiltonga Reservoir has been a useful way for us to enhance our knowledge in order to ensure the Bill is sound and fit for purpose.

"I look forward to seeing the proposed legislation when it is introduced to the Assembly in due course. Today’s visit to the Kiltonga reservoir has also helped the Committee see first-hand the issues around reservoir management and safety.

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"We are all too aware of the problems that can occur when reservoirs flood and the devastating consequences of that flooding to the communities that are in close proximity to them.

Mr Frew concluded:  “When the Bill is ready for the Committee’s scrutiny, we will ensure that its objective to protect the public, environment, cultural and economic activity is always kept in mind.”

Notes to Editor: Committee Membership: Mr Paul Frew – Chairperson, Mr Joe Byrne – Deputy Chairperson, Mr Thomas Buchanan, Mr Trevor Clarke, Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson, Mr William Irwin, Mr Declan McAleer, Mr Kieran McCarthy, Mr Oliver McMullan, Mr Ian Milne, Mr Robin Swann.

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