WITH more people taking ‘staycations’ NI Water is urging the public to help protect the countryside.
NI Water is the second largest land owner in Northern Ireland having responsibility for over 11,200 hectares across the province.
Where safe to do so, NI Water welcomes members of the public, organisations and groups to access these lands and bodies of water for recreational activities; however, before allowing an event to go ahead, permission must be sought.
Roy Taylor, Catchment Manager for NI Water explains: “Whilst we are happy to welcome the public to use our sites for outdoor recreation, it must also be pointed out that some of our sites are unsuitable for public access and this must be respected.
“The number one purpose of these sites is to provide and safeguard important drinking water sources. Secondary to that is their attraction for those seeking outdoor recreation and picturesque walks.
“We have a Recreation and Access Policy in place where those interested in holding an event can apply to do so. We will work with applicants to facilitate public access, whilst safeguarding important drinking water sources and protecting valuable wildlife habitats.
“We are aware of some unofficial events which have caused us some serious problems and they need to stop. There have also been instances of litter and fly tipping. This damages the environment and ruins the area for others who use it. Therefore it is important and necessary to apply for permission beforehand.
“Furthermore, the remoteness of many of our sites could hamper and delay rescue attempts, should such a need arise.
“If we cannot allow an event to go ahead, it will be for a good reason, for example, to protect the area around an important drinking water resource or if there is a risk of personal injury.
“If permission is granted, it’s important you leave no trace and no impact; be respectful to these beautiful areas and take your rubbish home.”
For those planning an event or activity on NI Water land, their ‘Recreation and Access Policy’ and application form can be downloaded from https://www.niwater.com/great-days-out/
For those planning an event or activity Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland in partnership with Sport Northern Ireland and the assistance and knowledge from a variety of experts have compiled and published a toolkit for Outdoor Event Planning. The toolkit also endorses the ethos of Leave No Trace. More information on the principles of Leave No Trace can be found at: https://www.leavenotraceireland.org