Kilwaughter Lake: No water lowering until assessment completed, says company

The owners of one of the banks of Kilwaughter Lake have confirmed there will be no work to lower the level of water at the location until an environmental assessment has been completed.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 5:30 pm

In April the Larne Times reported that plans to reduce the volume of the lake, which was once an integral part of the Agnew castle estate near Larne, have led to anger among local people.

Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd, which owns one of the banks of the lake, says it has lowered the water level in accordance with recommendations from the Department for Infrastructure. For more on this story, read here

The Department said recently: “Kilwaughter Minerals Limited are the reservoir manager for Kilwaughter Pond. In common with other reservoir managers they have a responsibility to ensure the safe condition of their reservoir in line with their common law responsibilities. The company is acting in accordance with the recommendations made by a specialist reservoir engineer.”

Kilwaughter Lake has been a feature of the area for at least 150 years says one resident.

In an update to this newspaper, a spokesperson for Kilwaughter Minerals Ltd said: “Following continuing engagement with local political representatives and fresh guidance from the Department for Infrastructure, Kilwaughter Minerals Limited can confirm that no works will take place to reduce the level of the pond until an appropriate environmental assessment is completed.”

Welcoming the commitment, East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons, who along with DUP colleagues has made representations to the company on the issue, said: “We will study the environmental assessment carefully and insist that the natural wildlife, particularly the swans, are protected.”

East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs said he too welcomed the news “that an environmental assessment is to be carried out before any further reduction of the water level”.

He added: “I am aware as a member of the Infrastructure Committee, of the Reservoirs Act (NI) and indeed we were given a recent briefing on dams, lakes and reservoirs that have come to the attention of the department. The legislation requires dam owners to prevent the risk of significant failure which would endanger lives and property of those who live in the flood plane below it.

“But equally there are requirements to protect wildlife and to minimise any impact of changes, particularly during the breeding season. So I welcome the news that an environmental assessment will be completed.

“I have been in contact with the company and understand they are presently involved in several biodiversity projects and may also look to improve the wild life habitat of this area.”

Evidence of seven species of bat was found at Kilwaughter Castle, which is also home to otters, swans, badgers and foxes.

Last month it was announced that wildlife and heritage tours at the castle were being considered.

For more on this, read here

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