Thames Water’s proposals for a huge new reservoir near Abingdon have been rejected by environment secretary Caroline Spelman acting on the advice of an independent planning inspector.
She has told the company to ditch its projected £1bn reservoir holding 100 million cubic metres, which it wanted to locate on Oxfordshire farmland. Thames Water must also rewrite much of its draft Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP).
The reservoir project, on the drawing board for 20 years, was the centrepiece of the utility’s long term strategy for meeting water demand.
The inspector said the water supply measures proposed weren’t fully justified and concluded that they couldn’t be shown to be “efficient and economical”. The Environment Agency was critical of much of the water companies’ justification for the reservoir plan.
Thames Water must now look at a “wider range of feasible options”, which could involve a much smaller reservoir, transfers from the River Severn and indirect reuse of sewage effluent.
Councillor Tony de Vere, leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, welcomed the move to scrap plans for the scheme earmarked for a site between Drayton, Steventon and East Hanney.
He said: "We are delighted with this decision. We have always argued that the case for this reservoir has not been made and that it is not needed.
"Local residents were very worried about the impact of such a large reservoir and we share their relief that the plan has been axed."
The local planning authority, together with the county council, challenged Thames Waters’ case for such a large reservoir and the housing and population forecasts deployed to justify it.
Spelman has also signalled the government may now drop plans for a National Policy Statement on water supply.
10 March 2011