Reservoir set to become Local Nature Reserve

A reservoir in the Pentland Hills Regional Park could become a legally sanctioned Local Nature Reserve (LNR) under plans being put before the City of Edinburgh Council.

Harperrig Reservoir lies to the north of the Pentland Hills, near the A70 and to the south west of Kirknewton. Although it is located within the West Lothian Council boundary, it is owned by the City of Edinburgh Council for reasons of flood risk management.

It is a joint aspiration of both Local Authorities to have the reservoir declared an LNR - in order for this to come to fruition, both councils must enter into a legal agreement.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, Convener of the Transport, Infrastructure & Environment Committee, said: "Harperrig Reservoir is a great place to enjoy nature and that will only get better if it's designated as a Local Nature Reserve. LNR status will lead to enhancement of biodiversity and welfare of wildlife as well as benefitting walkers, bird-watchers and nature-lovers alike."

Councillor Carl John, who represents West Lothian Council on the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, said: "If the site were a Local Nature Reserve, it would allow the management group to apply for future grants, which are currently unavailable to the Council, to carry out further improvements around Harperrig Reservoir.

"Over the years, there have been long established efforts by local land managers and residents to improve the management of the facility and carry out improvements that will aid the nature conservation value of the area. This would include amenity shelter belt planting and improvements to acces routes south of the reservoir."

An LNR is a protected area of land designated by a local authority because of its local special natural interest and/or educational value.

LNR status is sought after for the positive environmental impact it can have on a site, through enhanced community involvement opportunities, wildlife conservation, educational opportunities and managed recreational uses.

A report entitled Harperrig Reservoir: Proposed Local Nature Reserve will be considered by the City of Edinburgh Council on Thursday 2 June 2011. The report asks for Council approval for the finalised legal agreement. If approved, this document would then be referred to West Lothian Council to be progressed as part of the LNR declaration process.

Ownership of Harperrig Reservoir was transferred from Scottish Water to the City of Edinburgh Council in 2007 as part of the Water of Leith Flood Prevention Scheme.

Local planning authorities have exclusive statutory powers to declare, set up and manage LNRs under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. 

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