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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

 

Thames Water concede the case for a second public consultation on their plans after pressure from Oxfordshire organisations

On 10th August 2018, Thames Water issued a press statement conceding the case for a second public consultation on their revised draft Water Resources Management Plan 2019-2024 (known as rdWRMP19). They also announced a month's delay until 'end of September' in producing the revised plan, which will be published alongside their response to all the public comments (individual and organisational) which they received in the first consultation which closed at the end of April.

This action by Thames Water is as a direct result of the pressure from Oxfordshire organisations, led by GARD, in demanding the right for the public to look again at Thames Water's plans, as it was obvious from the shambles of the first plan that they would be forced into making deep changes, and not just minor revisions. GARD, Oxfordshire County Council, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Wantage and Grove Campaign Group and Steventon Parish Council all wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Michael Gove) putting a strong case that Thames Water must be forced to consult again. This call was heeded and it is a good example that public pressure works when we all work together. It is particularly notable that a full meeting of Oxfordshire County Council voted unanimously to press for a second consultation, as they questioned the basis of Thames Water's figures and justifications for the reservoir. GARD would like to thank all the organisations for their support, and also particularly to Councillors Mike Fox-Davies (Steventon and Hendred) and Richard Webber (Drayton and Sutton Courtenay) for leading the County Council's campaign, and our MP, Ed Vaizey for his support in intervening with Michael Gove.

The second consultation will last for 8 weeks. We now await the details of the new plan. GARD will be tackling the new plan, and looking particularly to see if it remains shrouded in secrecy as to how projects are compared on cost, and how decisions are made. If we find that the transparency of the plan has not improved (and hopefully it will have since both Ofwat and the Environment Agency asked for more transparency), then we are almost certainly going to join the Vale council in demanding a Public Inquiry. It is regrettable that the actions of Thames Water force these conclusions – it remains to be seen if they have had a culture change, or whether they must be dragged into a legal process in order that Oxfordshire's citizens can be protected.

We of course do not yet know the contents of the revised plan, but we do know, from statements by Thames Water on TV (ITV Meridian news - 10th August) and in the press (Oxford Mail - 10th August) that the mega-reservoir is still the centre-piece of their plans, and may even be advanced in time to be begun in 2030. GARD will be fighting such proposals every inch of the way, and insisting on an honest, level-playing-field comparison of options.

Thames Water finally forced to take action on leakage

Another snippet we know of the revised plan is that Thames Water have finally committed to a proper plan to reduce their appalling leakage. They are committing to reduce leakage by 50% by 2050. They have been forced into this commitment by the water regulator Ofwat, who finally lost patience with Thames Water's leakage programme, as leakage has actually got worse in 2016-2017 (going close to 700 Million litres per day for the first time). Ofwat's report concludes that the failure to reduce leakage has little to do with the difficulty of the task and is mainly due to Thames' poor management, and lack of Board-level commitment to the leakage programme. In order to avoid a massive fine for missing the leakage target, Thames have had to commit to the Ofwat target of 15% reduction by 2025, and a 50% reduction by 2050. If this 50% reduction is met, it amounts to a saving of 300 Million litres per day of water, equal to the amount which the proposed reservoir would supply. So, local residents would be right in concluding that the case for the reservoir would be even harder to justify.


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.

 

 
LATEST NEWS


GARD Chairman briefs Oxfordshire County Councillors on Reservoir Proposals and dangers - 3rd September 2018
In a specially convened meeting, the Chairman of GARD, Dr Derek Stork, briefed a meeting of Oxfordshire County Councillors on the Thames Water reservoir proposals.- CLICK TO READ MORE  bullet

Thames Water Draft Plan (dWRMP19) still fails to justify a reservoir! - GARD is calling for a second consultation on a revised plan - April 2018 -
GARD submitted a robust rebuttal to TW's plan, in a response running to nearly 200 pages. - CLICK TO READ MORE bullet

GARD Reservoir briefings given to Local Residents - 6th March 2018 -
GARD Chairman, Derek Stork, has recently given briefings to local residents about the fallacies and dangers in Thames Water's plans. - CLICK TO READ MORE bullet

Oxford Mail report on Thames Water's new plans: “ACT NOW TO BLOCK RESERVOIR” - 21st February 2018 - CLICK TO READ ARTICLE bullet

“Report by GARD shows that the Abingdon Reservoir would not be resilient against prolonged droughts and could be empty if a succession of dry winters occurred.” CLICK TO READ MORE bullet

You can now follow GARD on Facebook. CLICK TO VIEW bullet

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The previously proposed Abingdon reservoir layout.

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