Northern Ireland news

No environmental survey carried out despite fears for key Co Antrim bat habitat

Kilwaughter Lake outside Larne in Co Antrim supports bats, swans and breeding otters. Picture from Ryan Greer

NO environmental survey has been carried out on a key natural habitat in Co Antrim, despite plans to drain water from a privately-owned reservoir.

The water level in Kilwaughter Lake outside Larne is to be reduced after a report carried out for the Department for Infrastructure in 2019 cited concerns for public safety.

Campaigners have said the potential environmental impact had not been properly considered.

But the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has said it does not think an environmental survey has been carried out.

The lake, which dates back to 1810, is on private land and has multiple owners.

Swans, a breeding pair of otters and seven different bat species all live on or around the lake.

Kilwaughter Minerals Limited, which owns one bank of the lake, said it has a legal obligation to reduce the water level.

But Ryan Greer, who is property manager for one of the owners of the adjoining Kilwaughter Estate, told The Irish News last week that nesting season "was the worst time" to alter the reservoir.

He said the lake is "the focal point for the ecosystem" and said a survey must be carried out.

A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said yesterday the Northern Ireland Environment Agency "have received some general queries about biodiversity in and around Kilwaughter Lake".

"Officials are not aware of any environmental assessment having been carried out at or near the lake," he said.

"Anyone assuming responsibility for reducing water levels should ensure that their actions comply with the requirements of all relevant environmental legislation.

"Regarding bat species, we would require specific details on the nature of the proposed works before being able to comment on their potential impact on bat habitat."

A spokesman for Kilwaughter Minerals Limited said earlier this week it has a legal obligation to follow the Department for Infrastructure's recommendations to lower the water level "which are enforceable by law".

"As such the level of pond will be reduced in small increments leaving the reservoir safe with circa 10,000 cubic metres of water," he said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news