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Column 22nd September 2021

Conspiracy theories around reservoir plans

The Oxford Mail last week included an article entitled “Plans for giant ‘habitat destroying’ reservoir in Abingdon resurface”.

It explained that water regulator Ofwat recently published documents revealing plans for the reservoir between Marcham, East Hanney and Steventon.

“The plans for the reservoir suggest it would cover the equivalent of 2,500 football pitches, making for the biggest stretch of open water in southern England.

“It would be half the size of Windermere and sit behind huge embankments, taller than electricity pylons.”

Derek Stork from GARD (Group against Reservoir Development) said: “It will destroy a lot of biodiversity and habitat. It is four square miles of water plus the embankments around it makes quite a large area. It is basically a tank with 30m high walls, which tower above surrounding housing.”

'If a crack appeared in the reservoir wall, south Abingdon would have to be evacuated for 25 days while they drained the reservoir.”

Some people seem to believe that it will become a leisure amenity site but it is more likely that it will be controlled entry partially because of the potential impact of any damage to the wall of the reservoir.

This will not be a boating lake, it will be an industrial water storage area.

Given that Thames Water (who will be building and maintaining it) have one of the worst records of leaks of any water company in the country, what’s the chance of this leaking too?

As Mr Stork has pointed out, this will be a huge construction project and will have the largest carbon footprint of any construction project in the area.

This would totally wreck Oxfordshire's attempt to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Most background information about the project is heavily redacted for “commercial reasons” even though similar information for the proposed reservoir in the Fens is readily available.

So conspiracy theory would suggest that there are ulterior motives for secrecy.  

Thames Water is not a public body but is owned mainly by foreign organisations such as the Chinese sovereign wealth fund, Qatar sovereign wealth fund and the Canadian pension fund.

It exists to make a profit and hasn’t paid any corporation tax for at least a decade. So I can’t believe that this isn’t a scheme for enriching investors at the cost of our environment.

So what is more important, reducing our carbon footprint and our water usage so not building a reservoir, or making profit for Thames Water?


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