WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 7th December 2022

The argument for the reservoir continues

The argument for a huge reservoir south of Marcham and East of Hanney is not proven.

The County Council hosted a water summit in Oxford last week to look at recently released draft plans for future water supply from Water Resource South East (WRSE).

Professor Sir Dieter Helm from Oxford University reminded us that the Conservative government privatised the water and sewage systems in 1989; he suggested that companies with a profit motive may not be the best owners of our water systems.

In 2017 research suggested that English consumers were paying £2.3 billion more every year for their water and sewerage bills than they would if the water companies had remained under state ownership.

Professor Richard Harding from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology explained that population projections were key to planning the future and that in the South East there was negative growth in the base population over the next 30 years due to declining birth rates, with the only growth coming from migration.

The WRSE Draft Plan includes a wide range of population forecasts for the South East from a minimum of 256,000 more people to a maximum of 5.3 million by 2060.

Trevor Bishop from WRSE tried to justify their plans for water supply which include the Abingdon Reservoir by 2040, long before they start piping water from the River Severn.

As one of our supporters said recently the reservoir will be a giant “flan-case” on our countryside.

WSRE told us that they have evaluated everything in terms of carbon footprint and biodiversity but we have yet to review the details.

It will require many tonnes of concrete to build and (if this year’s drought is anything to go by) could spend much of its life as a dry puddle.

Thames Water admitted that they don’t know how to achieve their target of 50% reduction in leaks by 2050 (from 176 litres per household per day in 2018) but if they stopped the leaks we wouldn’t need the reservoir.

The WRSE plans are available for comment but include 2 technical appendices, 16 supporting reports and 17 method statements so it could take us a while to work on a response.

The Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD) have completed an initial review and have been holding public meetings in several local village halls.

There are meetings in East Hendred on Thursday 8 December and in East Hanney on 9th December, both starting at 7.30pm.

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