Alliance Councillor Gavin Walker has described the recent High Court decision to grant Portavo Estates a right of pre-emption over the property as ‘disappointing’ and has called on all parties involved to work together to retain public access to the area.
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Vested in 1933 to form the Portavo Reservoir to serve Donaghadee, the land has been deemed as surplus to requirements by Northern Ireland Water. Ards and North Down Borough Council had been offered first call on the purchase of the property before the Portavo Estates legal action.
“The Northern Ireland Water legal team has fought hard to retain the right to sell the land and we thank them for that,” Councillor Walker said. “I have now written to the Chief Executive Sara Venning requesting that she consider appealing the High Court decision.”
Councillor Andrew Muir who has been active around this issue for some years said: “After relentless efforts to save Portavo over the last number of years this legal decision will leave the many local people who have campaigned with such passion and commitment to ensure ongoing public access both angry and dejected.
“Just when it seemed likely the Council was about to step-in and secure Portavo Reservoir for future generations prospect of victory has been dashed.
“As a committed campaigner on the issue I intend to work closely with my colleague Councillor Walker to explore any last chance options to Save Portavo including any possible role the Council could play in conjunction with Northern Ireland Water and possible new owners.”
Councillor Walker added, “I have written to Portavo Estates requesting an early meeting with them to discuss their plans for the property and investigate the possibility of retaining public access to the property. Working with other Councillors, the Friends of Portavo and all interested parties, I hope we can realise a positive outcome to this issue.”