DOVESTONE RESERVOIR was placed in the middle of a doomsday dam bust scenario as part of a major disaster role play exercise two years in the planning.
Day trippers and tourists were kept away from the popular Saddleworth beauty spot as hundreds of emergency personnel descended on the area as part of Operation Triton II.
A Chinook military helicopter ‘buzzed’ Greenfield village throughout the day as it transported pumping equipment to fire crews sited at both ends of the reservoir.
Even local mallards and Canada Geese got in the act as they had to be tempted away from the landing site with bags of bread!
The mock training exercise was the largest of its kind ever staged in the region involving nearly 40 different agencies including: Army, Fire, Police, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, United Utilities, Greater Manchester’s 10 Councils, Oldham Mountain Rescue and the Environment Agency.
They were working together in the event of a nightmare scenario where a dam burst, spilling millions of gallons of water down the valley, threatening to engulf homes as far away as Trafford and Stockport.
Key personnel from the frontline agencies continued to brief media throughout the exercise in real time to simulate responses in the event of a real life drama.
Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, it is a requirement for local authorities and emergency services to plan for major incidents.
In reality, it was peace and tranquillity, though local sheep took fright occasionally as the twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift, ‘chopper’ flew over Fletcher’s Mill, and despite some villagers fears of a terrorist attack!
Two ‘sight-seers’ who did make it through the security cordon were Shirley and Dave Le Brow, parents of Chinook pilot, Christopher.
“We came over from Poynton to see what Chris was involved in,” explained proud mum, Shirley. “He told us last week he was coming up for an exercise.
“It is the first time we’ve been down to Dovestone Reservoir; it’s a lovely spot.”
And had they been up in a Chinook? “They told us as we were over 60 we were too old,” she laughed.
Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale was also involved in the multi agency training exercise while Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium was used as a rendez-vous point for emergency service vehicles.