Banagher Dam water tanks ‘buried on site’

The filters and a boat left inside the building when it was being demolished.

The filters and a boat left inside the building when it was being demolished.

Tanks from the old Filter House at Banagher Dam were “buried on site” when the building was demolished.

NI Water had initially indicated that the building was empty when it was demolished and was knocked down “in the interests of public safety”.

However, the ‘Journal’ obtained photographs which showed the building was not empty and there was, in fact, at least seven large filters and a boat left inside.

In a statement to the ‘Journal’, NI Water apologised for “any confusion it has caused in relation to the filter house and its contents”.

“On further investigation, it has transpired that the boat in question and some of the tanks were still at the site during the course of the demolition and were not all disposed of as was initially believed. This was an error on our behalf and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused,” said a spokesperson for NI Water.

NI Water said a number of tanks, in the region of 20, were removed in the 1980s to sites in Newry and Enniskillen. It said the remaining tanks “were subsequently disposed of by the contractor during the course of the demolition process”.

“The boat was not fit for purpose and was disposed of for safety reasons. The tanks were buried on site with the excavated material used to fill in the area. The boat was broken up and taken off site in a skip,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added: “As the Old Filter House was not a listed building and construction work was not involved, Planning Service had no comments to make.

“NIEA required an Ecological study to be carried out in support of a Habitat Regulatory Assessment. This was done and approval was received from NIEA to proceed with the demolition. NIEA have accepted the filters being buried because they were already on the site and don’t present any risk in relation to contamination.”

The demolition of the building is seen by some local people as “a missed opportuity for tourism”.

Dungiven man John Mullan, who walks at Banagher Dam every day, believes the old filter house would have been perfect as a visitor attraction.

“Banagher Glen is a tourist gem. With some investment, the old filter house would have made a great museum to teach people about water filtration,” said Mr Mullan.

“My annoyance is the inability of those in power to see the value of it and now it’s too late - it’s gone. It’s a missed opportunity.”

Sinn Fein councillor Tony McCaul said “a piece of history has been wiped out”.

“There’s nothing left and that’s a missed opportunity.”