NI Water Statement – Portavo Reservoir
01 April 2021 16:02
NI Water is fully aware of the importance of Portavo Reservoir to the local community and understand their concerns as ownership of the site changes.
Portavo Estates Ltd is the owner of some adjoining land, out of which the reservoir site was ‘carved’ in the 1930’s. That company issued High Court proceedings against NI Water.
The High Court judge decided that: -
- NI Water was obliged to offer to sell to that company the portion of the reservoir site which had been acquired from its predecessor in title in the 1930’s;
- If that company accepted the offer, and NI Water and that company could not agree on a price, the price would be decided by arbitration.
The price of £67,575.00 was agreed after a valuation of each plot of land by Land and Property Services (LPS) within the Department of Finance, who act as an independent valuer in these circumstances. NI Water had no control over the extent of those valuations.
As directed by the High Court, NI Water had to offer the reservoir to Portavo Estates Ltd. NI Water had no discretion in relation to this and did not have the power to offer the land to the local council or put on it the open market.
The sale to Portavo Estates Limited was subject to an agreement for planting trees, between the statutory predecessors of NI Water and DAERA Forest Service. This Agreement will therefore limit how the land can be used and impact on the value of the land. It is important to note that the majority of the area sold consists of land covered by water and land on which trees had been planted. This would affect the suitability of the land for development.
In addition, the new private owner is now a reservoir manager within the terms of the Reservoirs Act (NI) 2015. They will be subject to the duties, liabilities, obligations, and responsibilities set out in that Act, as and when it is brought into force.
NI Water no longer has any legal remit over Portavo and all future activities at the site are a matter for the new private owner.
Access for fishing:
NI Water had entered into a Service Level Agreement with DAERA Inland Fisheries, covering Portavo and other reservoirs, which will remain in force in respect of Portavo until at least 18th December 2024. The sale was subject this Agreement. We note from http://aims.niassembly.gov.uk/questions/printquestionsummary.aspx?docid=329699 that the DAERA Minister replied to Mr Easton that:
“Discussions have taken place between my officials and the new owners, and the new owners have confirmed that they wish the site to remain private and not open to the public. DAERA are seeking legal advice regarding access rights for permit holders to fish at the site. Until this has been clarified permit holders have been advised that the site will remain closed for the foreseeable future.”
Notes to Editors:
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