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This website has been created using the best information available to GARD at the time of its compilation. The opinions expressed are based on GARD’s perception of the issues involved and the stance taken by Thames Water

 

LATEST NEWS

September 2020 - Newsletter

It has been six months since our last update but despite the limitations of Covid lockdown and the cancellation of our AGM and planned meetings with water companies, regulators and local stakeholders, GARD officers have continued to mount vigorous opposition to the reservoir. Many of us have become used to virtual meetings over the last few months and whilst no substitute for ‘face to face’ they have proved an efficient form of communication.

Officers have participated in meetings with Thames Water’s Water Resource Forum, the new managing director of RAPID (a group which brings OfWAT and other water regulators together) and representatives from both Water Resources East and Water Resources South-East. These meetings are all ensuring that we stay in touch with policy and development issues. GARD is most definitely seen by water professionals and the regulators as a well-informed group who have a significant role to play in monitoring and informing the research that has been required by the regulators before any decision on a reservoir can be made.

GARD’s professional consultant has completed a detailed critique and concluded that the proposed reservoir would not be resilient to long droughts. We remain very worried that the reservoir plan is deeply flawed and that this limited approach to future needs could result in serious supply issues in a long period of drought. Elsewhere, we note that the Chalk Stream and Angler interest groups have come out in favour of an alternative, early deliverable scheme to remove the need for abstraction from the Chiltern streams. This scheme uses water transfers from existing Thames Water reservoirs, and would be available a decade earlier than even the earliest Abingdon reservoir date. GARD believes that this scheme, similar to the one we suggested last year, would remove any need for the Abingdon Reservoir as a scheme to 'save' the Chalk Stream habitats.

The flood risk study that GARD has commissioned has been completed and shows that Thames Water’s estimates of the necessary flood compensation volume have been underestimated by around 60 – 70%. This was well worth doing and will strengthen our position still further.

Sadly, our AGM has had to be postponed. The committee members have all indicated a willingness to continue in post. We plan to send out a full report to members of activities since the last AGM in Spring 2019 and we are also planning a virtual ‘Meet the Officers’ gathering in October, which will provide an opportunity for you to ask questions and join in discussion about GARD’s future direction and activities.


August 2020 – Latest News from GARD

GARD criticises Water Company groupings studies on South-east water needs

As we reported earlier in the year, Ofwat and The Environment Agency were not convinced by Water Companies' plans for the resources in the South-east, which include the Abingdon Reservoir,  proposed by Thames Water and Affinity Water, but opposed by GARD and the over whelming majority of local councils. They have responded to water companies’ plans by requiring a major strategic study to inform fresh plans for water resources across the South-East.

GARD pledged to continue fighting these plans and to closely monitor developments during the research period, likely to be the next three years.  The organisation Water Resources South East (WRSE) which represents the interests of the seven South-east region water companies (including Thames Water and Affinity) has now published two 'research' papers on the requirement for future water resources and the resilience to droughts required from the future water system.
These papers were open for public consultation, and GARD has produced responses to each. They can be found on our accompanying webpages at
'Future Water Resource Requirements' ,
and
'In Securing Resilient Water Resources for South East England'.

WRSE have not put forward any new justifications for the water company plans,  just repeated, uncritically, previous work which stacks up the water shortages from various sources (over-estimated population increase, climate change - without allowing for the effect of wetter winters etc) and then builds in 1 in 500 year drought resilience,  further headroom and unjustified 'safety factors' to reach an enormous predicted deficit for the South-east. This (surprise, surprise) requires all the proposed schemes (Reservoir and Water transfers) to satisfy. The Resilient Water Resources, document recycles the TW/Atkins arguments, and does not provide any new analysis. GARD's consultant's critiques are detailed, and, for the Resilience consultation we have done much more work on the (lack of) resilience of the Abingdon reservoir to long droughts. GARD  remains very worried about the train of the argument being used, not only because it gives false justification to building the reservoir, but also because it is a deeply flawed plan for the SE, which will lead to problems of supply in long-running droughts.

We intend to keep up the pressure on the water companies and continue to ensure that government ministers, local MPs, councillors and all other stakeholders are kept well informed.

GARD cancelled AGM due to Corona-virus restrictions

GARD’s AGM, which was due to take place on Tuesday 28 April had to be cancelled because of the Government's Corona virus lock-down restricitions.
The GARD Committee have all agreed to carry on in post. We will be issuing a Chairman's Report and the Audited Annual Accounts to members in September. We hope to hold a 'Q&A' session via Zoom video conference at the end of September/ beginning of October, to keep all informed. Please watch out for details of this in the  local Village Newsletters, or on this website.

 


GARD

If you wish to join GARD, lifetime membership is £10 (under 18s and full-time students £5). You can download a membership application form at our website <Just Click Here>



ABOUT GARD (Group Against Reservoir Development). GARD is a group of individuals whose aim is to identify and promote viable solutions to meet the future needs of water users in the Thames Water Region. GARD is advised by eminent water industry practitioners. Our committee is composed of voluntary, unpaid members with technical experience, each of whom is free from any political or vested interests. Click here for names of committee members and advisors.

 

 
NEWS BRIEFING

March 2020

Abingdon Reservoir

News from GARD

As we reported in January, Ofwat and The Environment Agency have responded to water companies’ plans by requiring a major strategic study to inform fresh plans for water resources across the South-East.  GARD will be closely monitoring developments during the research period, likely to be the next three years.  In the meantime, we will not be ‘putting our feet up’ and waiting for the outcomes of the research.  We intend to keep up the pressure on the water companies and continue to ensure that government ministers, local MPs, councillors and all other stakeholders are kept well informed.
GARD’s executive Committee met in February and agreed a number of actions:

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December 2019

Ofwat publishes 'final' (for now!) view on Thames Water/Affinity Reservoir plans

Water company plans not yet justified
The 'final view' of the Water Regulator (Ofwat) on the Water Companies' plans for 2019-2024 has been published  (16th December), much delayed because of the General Election. The section of the decisions relating to future water resources can be found at Ofwat Strategic Study

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September 2019

THE PROPOSED ABINGDON RESERVOIR
AN UPDATE FROM GARD

It may have gone a bit quiet but the
mega reservoir proposal has not gone away!

As reported in July, we are awaiting the decision of the Secretary of State on the Thames Water and Affinity plans. We know that the regulators (Ofwat and the Environment Agency) are not convinced by their proposals. They have asked for a strategic study into water supply for the whole of the South East (including a possible reservoir, but also other schemes advocated by GARD), with completion for decision by 2022.

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July 2019:
A different kind of GARD UPDATE

We are still awaiting the decision of the Secretary of State on the Thames Water and Affinity plans. We know that the regulators (Ofwat and the Environment Agency) are not convinced of their proposals. We hear that a strategic study will be made on water supply for the whole of the South East   (including a possible reservoir, but also other schemes advocated by GARD), with completion for decision in 2022. Watch this space.

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Affinity Water's plans for the reservoir.
Deadline 26th April 2019

Affinity Water publish their plan for consultation – partnership on reservoir with Thames Water is 'preferred option'

As we reported last month, Affinity Water published their revised draft Water Resources Management Plan 2019-2024 (known as rdWRMP19) on 1st March. The consultation on this plan runs until 26th April.
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Ofwat slam Thames Water and Affinity Water business plans – put them 'in the slow lane' for approval.

As was widely reported in the press, Ofwat, the water regulator, has issued a damaging report on several water companies' business plans and said they are not fit for purpose. Foremost amongst these are Thames Water and Affinity, who have not received approval to proceed.


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Report from GARD  - March-April 2019

Affinity Water publish their plan for consultation – partnership on reservoir with Thames Water is 'preferred option'


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WHAT CAN I DO

There are many ways in which you can get involved with the campaign.

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SEE THE MAP

map
The previously proposed Abingdon reservoir layout.

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