A small reservoir used by breeding birds has been drained following safety concerns.
Rayburn Lake is normally a beauty spot south-west of Longhorsley frequented by wildlife and fishermen, but over the last week the water level has dropped considerably.
It has prompted concern from residents that valuable habitat could be lost and suspicion that the draining could be linked to a windfarm application for the area.
However, Nick Craigs, whose family farm the land where the lake is located, said they had no choice but to drain it after a legal inspection found it was in urgent need of repair.
“Because of the classification as a reservoir, for safety reasons we have had to drain the lake to do repair work to the dam,” he said.
“The cost of that is considerable and we have to bear that cost. As landowners, we also need the drinking water it provides for livestock, but we have had to do this by law. It is out of our hands.
“The lake gets a regular inspection and it failed its inspection this year due to the condition of the dam.
“The dam needs to be surveyed before the work starts so it could take some time.
“We have to do the work now because it is too wet in the winter. As soon as the repair work is done, the lake will be filled up.”
Mr Craigs said the family hopes to take the opportunity to improve wildlife habitat while the work is being carried out.
“We are looking at the moment to try to make the lake better for wildfowl and put in nesting islands,” he said.