Fears for future of Lurgan lake

THERE are fears for the future of Lurgan and Craigavon Lakes should costly new legislation come into force.

Craigavon Council is to query the new Reservoir Safety Policy which could land ratepayers with an initial £30,000 bill.

And there may be an annual £7,000 fee each year after.

The policy is to ‘create a legal and administrative framework for regulating reservoir safety’.

The council would be responsible for the cost of employing engineers to survey the lakes and for any remedial works needed.

No lives have ever been lost in Northern Ireland due to a catastrophic failure of a reservoir dam.

The council is expected to meet with the Rivers Agency to voice concern about the proposals.

Alderman Woolsey Smith said he could not support the reservoir safety consultation principles as they would appear to put a potentially heavy financial burden on council.

He preferred a risk based approach which would only start to incur costs if specific high risk factors were uncovered.

The council is expected to object to the legislation as it will put a large demand on resources engineering surveys, reports and monitoring.

There is a concern that the huge costs may lead to many privately owned reservoirs being decommissioned, thereby leading to a loss of amenity, landscape and biodiversity value.

Furthermore some reservoirs such as Craigavon Lakes were created as balancing lakes to reduce the risk of flooding and their removal will increase the flooding risk, Craigavon Councillors were told.

And it was revealed that at Lurgan Park lake the council, while responsible for the reservoir, is not responsible for the dam or impounding structure.

A road and housing are built on the dam and this area is not under the ownership or responsibility of council.

There are many different owners and therefore obtaining cooperation and consensus would be extremely difficult.