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

Column 6th September 2023

Despite numerous objections the Reservoir plans are back to full size

The Water Resources South East (WRSE) plans for the Reservoir are back up to 150 million cubic metres.

WRSE is an alliance of the six water companies - Affinity Water, Portsmouth Water, SES Water, Southern Water, South East Water and Thames Water -, that supply drinking water across South East England.

WRSE have published their revised draft regional plan to Defra, alongside their response to the consultation comments received on their draft regional plan last winter.

Oxfordshire County Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and South Oxfordshire District Council expressed their strong opposition to the Reservoir proposal in the consultation, questioning the need for the scheme and highlighting concerns at the scale and potential impacts of the proposals on the local environment and local communities.

The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group also commented on details of the proposal, expressing its opposition and stating that flow records show it would have been impossible to fill the Reservoir between May 1975 and December 1976 and with climate change this could be a much more frequent occurrence.

A significant number of other respondents expressed their opposition to the Reservoir proposal, with many indicating support for the Severn Thames Transfer proposal in preference to the Reservoir.

WRSE acknowledges the long-standing and significant levels of opposition that have been expressed against the reservoir proposal and states that there are potentially significant impacts associated with its construction and future operation that will need to be fully assessed, mitigated and/or compensated for in order to secure the necessary planning and other consents for its construction and operation.

The draft regional plan consulted on last winter included the 100 million cubic metres option, but even after all the comments the WRSE revised draft regional plan selects the larger 150 million cubic metres option.

Their plan forecasts that in a 1 in 500 year drought, without any of the proposals in the regional plan, there will be a deficit of between approximately 1,200 and 2,700 million litres of water a day by 2075 under the least and most challenging scenarios selected in the regional plan.

This is a huge variation and suggests that it’s a little bit like trying to pin the tail on a donkey (or budgeting for HS2).

They do say that most of the water needed in the first 15-years will come from reducing how much is used and what is wasted through leakage.

I’m not sure that I believe this given the recent performance of Thames Water.

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