Reservoir plans inquiry

Up to five weeks of discussions have begun over plans which could see a massive reservoir built near Abingdon.

A public inquiry's started in Oxford into Thames Water's draft Water Resources Management Plan - what the company say they have to do to make sure our region has enough water over the next 25 years.

As part of the plans, the company want to build a 4sq-mile reservoir near the village of Steventon, to hold 100 million litres of water - enough to fill more than 100,000 bathtubs.

The reservoir would cover an area in the region of 600-900 football pitches.  Around 20 homes and other buildings would have to be demolished to make way for it.

The Group Against Reservoir Development are unhappy with the plans, and think Thames Water needs to find other ways to deal with a predicted scarcity of water in the coming decades.  A group of campaigners gathered outside the start of the public inquiry on Tuesday 15 June 2010.

Martin Baggs, Thames Water's CEO, said: "The long and difficult drought we experienced in 2005 and 2006 was too close for comfort. It highlighted what we already knew – that supplies are already stretched and we have to act now to ensure we can provide enough water to meet our customers’ needs now and in the future.

"Additional water resources will be required by 2020, and we are committed to pursuing every option available to us to manage our resources sustainably and cost-effectively, in the best interests of both our customers and the environment."

Nick Thompson from the Group Against Reservoir Development said: "This reservoir is not needed.  We have techincal experts challenging some of the water demand figures Thames Water have produced, and if there was a requirement for such a huge water resource, there are better and cheaper ways of doing it."

The reservoir would cost around £1bn to build and would ultimately be paid for by Thames Water customers across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire and London through water bills.

The public inquiry being held by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is expected to last up to five weeks.

Read more about Thames Water's draft Water Resources Management Plan