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Consultation on Reservoir Safety Policy Proposals

Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill has announced the commencement of the public consultation on new Reservoir Safety Policy proposals.
Monday, 12 March 2012

The policy proposals will be used to establish a legal and administrative regime for the management and regulation of reservoir safety. The public consultation period will run from 12 March until 1 June 2012.

Minister O’Neill said: “Many reservoirs were designed as water storage but are also important environmental and community assets. These policies will form thebasis of new legislation to provide increased protection to the public, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity from the risk of flooding from reservoirs in this region. They have been developed with the help of key stakeholders from across the public sector as well as private owners and operators.

“I want us to get this legislation right but without creating an unnecessary burden for owners and operators. I welcome comments on these proposals and I would encourage attendance at the information events which will be held during the consultation period.”

The policy proposals will support the Reservoirs Bill which is to be introduced in 2013 to ensure reservoirs are managed and operated to minimise the risk of reservoir failure.

David Porter, Director of Development, Rivers Agency, added: “Flooding cannot be entirely prevented, but these policies are a significant milestone in the management of the risk of flooding from reservoirs. I would also encourage the public to give us their views.”

The consultation document and impact assessments are available from the Rivers Agency Website. Hard copies or alternative formats of the consultation document can be requested by telephone 0845 3044505, by email or by post Bill Team, Rivers Agency, Hydebank,  4 Hospital Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, BT8 8JP.

Notes to editors:

  1. Reservoirs are considered to be a significant potential source of flooding.
  2. ‘Living with Rivers and the Sea’, government’s response (2008) to the independent Flood Management Policy review recommends that legislation to provide for regulatory control of reservoir safety in the north of Ireland is brought forward by Rivers Agency.
  3. International obligations for flood risk management have been changing and the European Commission Directive 2007/60/EC on the assessment and management of flood risks, known as the Floods Directive, aims to manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.
  4. The preliminary flood risk assessment as required by the Floods Directive indicated that approximately 66,000 people would be affected if there was a total failure of the 156 reservoirs (impoundments) having a capacity to hold 10,000 cubic metres or more of water.
  5. A legal and administrative framework for reservoir safety was introduced in England, Wales and Scotland through the Reservoirs Act 1975 and its subsequent amendments. There is currently no comparable legislation for regulating reservoir safety in Ireland.
  6. In the absence of legislation a reservoir owner/operator is currently responsible under common law for ensuring that the reservoir is operated and managed in a safe manner.
  7. A reservoir is a structure or area which is capable of holding 10,000m3 or more of water above the natural ground level of any part of the surrounding land.
  8. The Reservoirs Policy Consultation commences on Monday, 12 March and runs for 12 weeks until Friday, 1 June 2012 with the Reservoirs Bill being made towards the end of 2013.
  9. The consultation document on the Reservoir Safety Policy proposals provide a significant detail, much of which will be implemented through regulations that will support the Reservoirs Bill.
  10. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email DARD Press Office Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.