Northern Ireland's two largest reservoirs, Silent Valley and Ben Crom, are at the centre of a growing row over safety that has resulted in a block on decisions on a significant number of developments downstream of the two facilities.
Northern Ireland Water has confirmed that the latest regular statutory inspection of the reservoirs highlighted that work was needed “to ensure the reservoirs continue to remain safe into the future”.
The facilities supply much of the capital, Belfast, as well as business and domestic customers in Co Down.
Meanwhile the local planning authority, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, acting on the advice of the Province’s Department for Infrastructure, has instigated a virtual moratorium on deciding planning applications affected by the presence of the reservoirs.
In a statement the council acknowledged that “some planning applications may be delayed until the necessary level of assurance with regard to safety is secured”.
Local councillors are now voicing concern as the number of schemes in limbo mounts and NI Water declines to specify when the work will be carried out.