Committee to Scrutinise Reservoirs Bill

Synopsis: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has announced that it is to begin its scrutiny of the Reservoirs Bill.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 05 February 2014

Reference: AGR 06/13/14

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has announced that it is to begin its scrutiny of the Reservoirs Bill.

The proposed Departmental Bill aims to ensure that local reservoirs with a capacity of 10,000 cubic metres volume or more are managed and operated to safeguard the public and to minimise the risk of flooding.

Speaking as the Committee began its consideration of the bill, Committee Chairperson Paul Frew MLA said: "Specific legislation to control and regulate reservoirs exists in England, Scotland and Wales; however here in Northern Ireland, only common law stating that a reservoir owner or manager is responsible for reservoir safety applies. It is clear therefore, that in order to manage the risk of flooding and the dangers this poses to public safety, legislation that is effective and fit for purpose must be put in place.

Mr Frew continued: "However, there is always a balance to strike and while the Committee is keen to ensure that risk is assessed and managed, the legislation must take into account the importance of reservoirs as places were local people can pursue leisure activities. For that reason, the Committee had asked the Rivers Agency to carry out a survey on larger reservoirs to assess any negative impact legislation could have on local communities. The results of this will be factored into the Committee consideration of the Bill.

"The Committee is also keen to ensure that this Bill does not impose an administrative or financial burden on reservoir owners that is not proportionate to the risk."

Committee Deputy Chairperson Joe Byrne MLA added: "The Committee is very keen to hear the views of all those who own, manage and operate reservoirs and indeed from any individual or organisation that the proposed legislation may affect. We want to ensure that the final Bill will protect the public and the environment while ensuring that the cultural, sporting and economic benefits provided by reservoirs are maintained."

ENDS

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