• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Sir John Armitt: ‘Abingdon reservoir plans should go ahead’


Aug 15, 2022

THE chairman of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission said plans for a reservoir in Oxfordshire should be given “the green light”.

Sir John Armitt was speaking to The Sunday Telegraph when he said Thames Water’s £1billion reservoir plans in Abingdon should go ahead despite concerns due to the threat of prolonged droughts.

Reservoirs, which are most commonly an enlarged natural or artificial lake created using a dam, store fresh water.

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Sir Armitt believes the need for more comes after the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs declared an official drought in parts of the south west, parts of southern and central England as temperatures rose.

It was officially declared after the driest first half of the year since 1976.

Now, the Sir Armitt believes ministers should be able to overrule opposition such as residents, councillors and MPs so give new reservoirs projects across the UK approval by 2025.

The last reservoir for public water supply was built in 1991 as local resistance scuppers new projects.

He specifically mentioned the Abingdon plans, which would cover farmland between Steventon, East Hanney and Drayton, as an example of a reservoir that should go ahead.

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Thames Water has spent more than 15 years trying to construct the reservoir, which could help provide more than 100 million litres of water each day, but the Vale of White Horse District Council dubbed the plans as “environmentally disastrous”.

Abingdon MP Layla Moran also said the plans would have a “catastrophic” effect on wildlife and cause disruption to residents.

Villagers agree and say the building of the reservoir would be “destructive” and when finished would be an “eyesore”. Campaigners from Group Against Abingdon Reservoir believe the reservoir will destroy habitats.

Sir John said though a small number of people might be “inconvenienced and disappointed,” reservoirs provided a “social benefit to a very large number of people” beyond those in their immediate vicinity.

In a report by the National Infrastructure Commission, published about four years ago, the Government agency called for more reservoirs to be built.

In light of the recent heatwaves, Sir Armitt says these projects need to be “forced through”.

The Environment Agency (EA) has declared that most reservoirs in the country are “low” after stocks dropped and the drought was declared.

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As temperatures reached highs of 33°C in the August heatwave, residents of Northend village were forced to rely on deliveries of bottled and tanker water after a "technical fault" at Stokenchurch reservoir in Buckinghamshire has caused it to "dry up".

It follows a week-long heatwave in July which saw the UK temperature hitting 40°C for the first time.

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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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