Last modified: 18 February 2013
Image: Andy Hay
Northern Ireland Water, RSPB and United Utilities (UU) hosted a visit to the Sustainable Catchment Management Programme (SCaMP) at Dovestone Reservoir in the Peak District for key stakeholders. NI Water is working with a number of statutory and non-governmental bodies to develop and deliver the Sustainable Catchment Management Area Programme for Northern Ireland (SCAMP NI). This visit provided opportunity to observe and share best practice with an established catchment management programme in North West England.
UU own approximately 56,385ha of land in North West England, including 17,343ha designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Between 2005 and 2010, UU worked in partnership with the RSPB, Natural England and the Forestry Commission to deliver SCaMP across 27,000ha water catchment areas in the Peak District and Bowland. £10.6M was invested in moorland restoration, woodlands, farm infrastructure and watershed protection.
Dovestone is the northern gateway to the Peak District National Park and the location of several reservoirs that supply water to Greater Manchester. This stunning landscape is a SSSI but a history of pollution, drainage and overgrazing has left this and many other SSSIs in unfavourable condition, to the detriment of water quality, habitat condition and wildlife. The site is being restored as part of UU’s SCaMP project, through re-vegetation of blanket bog, drain-blocking, native woodland creation and heather management. The main aim of the project is to reach favourable recovering condition over 2,500ha blanket bog, and to enhance moorland fringe habitats. This will improve raw water quality, reduce water treatment costs and secure quality habitat for wildlife.
To date, 98.6% of UU’s SSSIs have been returned to favourable or recovering condition through SCaMP, surpassing Public Service Agreement targets. Following this success, UU is investing a further £11.6M across the remaining 30,000ha of their land between 2010 and 2015.
NI Water owns approximately 8,615 hectares of land over 5,182 sites within Northern Ireland, making it one of Northern Irelands largest land owners, this includes 89 sites within Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). NI Water extracts water from a variety of environments and is currently working to explore how catchment management can offer benefits in each of these. Work has already begun in several catchments, including those in the Mourne Mountains, Garron Plateau & River Derg
With NI Water’s upcoming Price Control 15 being asked, by the Utility Regulator and Department of Regional Development, to focus on sustainability the catchment based approach is more relevant locally than ever.