Thames Water held two community exhibitions, one on November 10th at East Hanney War Memorial Hall and the other on November 15th at Steventon Milton Hill House, to present their plans for a new reservoir near Abingdon. These events followed the release of Thames Water’s revised draft Water Resources Management Plan in August.
The proposed reservoir was the exhibition’s primary focus. There was no mention of alternative options such as the River Severn transfer scheme, which was promoted on banners displayed around the proposed site by the Group for Action on Reservoir Development (GARD).
The proposed reservoir would have a capacity of 150 million cubic meters, an option that Thames Water had considered alongside a 100 million cubic meter capacity earlier this year. Gard have said ‘Thames Water have ignored criticisms of their draft plans and ‘doubled down’ to select an even bigger Reservoir for Abingdon‘. Thames Water say it will offer better value for money and will provide enough water to supply the Southern Water area of Hampshire. The reservoir would take land currently used as farmland and a couple of large solar farms. A copy of the handout brochure can be found at https://camargue-thames-water-wrmp.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/sro/SESRO+Brochure+FINAL.pdf.
Representatives from Thames Water were present to answer questions. One representative indicated that the reservoir plans are being developed with the assumption that the project will proceed, but that it will still need to undergo public consultation and secure development consent in approximately 2026.
Reading Evening Post – Thursday 21 March 1991
Thames Water experts expect water consumption to rocket in the next three decades and are pressing ahead with proposals for a new reservoir near Abingdon to meet demand.
The Haverhill Echo – Thursday 13 January 1994
Thames water deferred their plans to build a reservoir near Abingdon because their priority programme to identify leaks and repair them has proved successful. (Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive)
Today in Trinity Church Abingdon, there was an exhibition by Thames Water on their draft Water Resources Plan 2024 entitled ‘Keeping water flowing for the future’. During the lifetime of this blog, since 2006, this is the third time a reservoir near Abingdon has been proposed as a solution to meeting water demand.
The displays around the exhibition showed the challenges of keeping water flowing for the future and some of the solutions. Thames Water plans to reduce leaks by 16% by 2030 and halve leaks by 2050. There is a plan for a new river abstraction at Teddington that could be built by 2030. The largest display was given to a new reservoir near Abingdon in Oxfordshire that could be available by 2040. Another option is a Severn to Thames Transfer. The consultation recommends going ahead with the Teddington scheme, followed by the reservoir near Abingdon while continuing to fix leaks.
GARD (Group against Reservoir Development) banners can be seen around the villages of Drayton and Steventon, immediately neighbouring the proposed reservoir. GARD’s message to Thames Water is: Stop the Reservoir, fix the leaks, transfer new water from the Severn. There are more details at the Gard website.
The Thames Water presentations, and consultation, can be seen at thames-wrmp.co.uk. This includes Thames Water’s reasons for choosing a new reservoir over the Severn transfer. The consultation began in November 2022 and ends Tuesday, 21st March 2023.
The Abingdon reservoir, also known as SESRO (South East Strategic Reservoir Option) is being consulted on as part of a raft of measures in the South East of England, across six water companies, to ensure future water supplies. A lot of the measure got through the gate 1 decision process in January 2022, as tested by OFWAT (the UK Water Services Regulation Authority), and now go towards gate 2. You can have your say on the WRSE website. WRSE stands for Water Resource South East.
Maybe they thought by calling it SESRO nobody would notice, but the Abingdon Herald have already produced a detailed report: Plans for huge reservoir near Abingdon explained/.
The Abingdon reservoir was proposed on two occasions since this blog started in 2006 and been turned down. It would cover a large area of farmland, south of Abingdon, across the A34 from Drayton, so about three miles from Abingdon.
This picture shows the A34 bordering the flat farmland with Steventon in the distance.
Just to mention that the new layby on the A34, built last year, should have a view over the reservoir if it ever gets built.