Second water company set to be told of concerns over reservoir proposal in southern Oxfordshire

Residents’ interests will always come first - that’s set to be the resolute message from Oxfordshire County Council as it continues to scrutinise plans for a new reservoir to the southwest of Abingdon between Steventon, East Hanney and Marcham.

The council has concerns about the need and size for the proposed reservoir and councillors are to be asked to express these once more in responding to a consultation by a second company, Affinity Water, involved in the scheme in partnership with the original proposers - Thames Water. The council’s cabinet will discuss the proposed response at its meeting on April 23.

Late in 2018 the council responded to a second Thames Water consultation seeking further clarity from Thames Water on whether other potential sites have been fully assessed across the southeast region and whether all other options have been considered.

The consultation response from the county council suggested there should be a regional plan for the south east, to clearly assess all the options so that the council would be able to decide on whether to back the principle of having a reservoir.

Affinity Water are a partner in the proposed scheme and they are now also consulting on the proposal. The county council is proposing to say that there should be a public inquiry on both the Thames Water and Affinity Water plans and that there should be further discussion on design issues for any new reservoir

Oxfordshire County Council had already responded to Thames Water’s first consultation outlining a list of concerns. Thames Water made a number of changes prior to the second consultation, including making commitments to reducing pipe leakage as requested by the county council.

Standing up for residents

John Disley, Oxfordshire County Council’s Infrastructure Strategy and Policy Manager, said: “There must be a careful balance between meeting the future water needs of the South East and the more localised impacts of a reservoir on the environment and residents.

“The county council will work closely with Thames Water and partners, as well as the Vale of White Horse District Council. The interests of Oxfordshire residents must come first and we must protect the local environment. It’s our job to stand up for residents’ interests and our report to our cabinet proposes that we do just that.”