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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.

 

 
 

NEWS BRIEFING

 

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.

What’s different about this update? We want to raise awareness about how lucky we are to have this countryside around us.  As well as being good farmland, it has a varied wildlife and flora, and a rich history, all of which will be lost if the reservoir goes ahead. The area is home to a number of Red Listed farmland birds, including Lapwing (see below), Curlew, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer and Yellow Wagtail. It is the one area of true ‘dark night’ in the Vale, needed by Owls and the insects on which Bats feed. Ten years of arc-lit 24/7 construction site will destroy all that. The reservoir water will be too deep for most wildfowl, and the future site contains no shallow area for wading birds. Alfred the Great is said to have marched his troops on the Great Army Way from Wantage to Abingdon.  Field markings indicate Iron Age, Roman and Saxon remains as yet unexcavated - the Vale of the White Horse, of which this is a part, has a history of occupation back to Neolithic times.  Digging out to a depth of 20 feet will remove every trace of historical remains.

FLOODING  1/3  of the reservoir area, and much of the land to the North, is ZONE 3 flood plain, which planning guidance says should never be developed.  Sealing this over means floodwater will not be able to spread as it currently does. Overleaf you can see the deep channel near Hanney planned to ‘replace’ flood capacity; but half of this channel is already part of Zone 3 and Thames Water have stated that they cannot be sure that they have enough room for flood compensation for their proposal. The reservoir’s effect on the flood risk for surrounding villages is unknown, and it hems in the proposed Abingdon flood relief scheme - already struggling for lack of space.

FACT FILE: THE LAPWING In a 2017 bio-survey of the old Berks & Wilts Canal, there were many lapwings in the area. Numbers in the UK are declining, and it is now on the RSPB  Red List. It is also known as a Peewit in imitation of its display calls, but the name Lapwing describes its wavering flight. Its black and white appearance, round-winged shape in flight and splendid crest make it a very distinctive bird.

Lapwing.

THE RESERVOIR

An artist's impression of the reservoir showing the 4 villages directly affected and the areas of vital flood plain covered by the construction.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

Artists impression of reservoir

To download the full Newsletter as a PDF click here Download word doc


 

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.

As expected, Affinity confirm that their 'preferred plan' is to partner Thames Water in constructing the 'mega-reservoir' next to our villages. They would take an approximately 1/3 share, and the plan proposes to start in 2025, and have the reservoir ready by 2037-8.

Affinity have no better case for needing the water from this reservoir than Thames Water have. By their own admission, they have other possible sources of supply. . These water sources would be available earlier than the reservoir. Affinity have chosen to prefer the reservoir first, for the same cynical reasons as Thames: to build up a huge water surplus in the 2040s and 2050s that they can sell-on by 'transfer' to other water companies in the South-east.  GARD's analysis shows that Affinity's requirements  can be met by very simple and cheap schemes and improving leakage (sounds familiar?), until at least the 2060s.

GARD will be making a very strong objection in response  to Affinity. CPRE Oxon have already come out against this and we hope to co-ordinate our response with local organisations. We urge all residents to make a strong response objecting to this and re-iterating our call for a Public inquiry before this plan is accepted. You can find out about the plan at  https://stakeholder.affinitywater.co.uk/water-resources.aspx  

We should make sure the Oxfordshire voice is heard by this Hertfordshire water company. The local individual objections to Thames Water's plan made up one third of all individual responses sent in. We must try and dominate the Affinity consultation in the same way.

Making your response

If you need information to help in your response, you can find a list of GARD's facts and objections to the Affinity Plan, by clicking here
or to download the full key points in Microsoft Word click here Download word doc

For a shorter (one page) of key points against the Affinity Plan, to view the short fact-sheet click here.
or to download one page key points in Microsoft Word click here Download word doc

We have also drafted a letter that can be sent in to the consultation, to view the letter as a PDF click here.
or to download draft letter in Microsoft Word click here Download word doc

Please send your views directly to the Secretary of State Defra

Email: water.resources@defra.gsi.gov.uk with the subject: Affinity Water draft water resources management plan consultation.

Please copy your email to:

Or you can post it to
Water Resources Management Plan, Affinity Water Limited, Tamblin Way, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9EZ

 

GARD would be grateful if you could please copy your responses to gard.chair@gmail.com , and to local County and District councillors and to our MPs Ed Vaizey and Layla Moran

 


 

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. This affects the prospects of the reservoir being approved. Whilst it is not, in itself, something that would lead to the reservoir plans being taken off the agenda, it is a setback, and GARD, and local political groups, should push hard to take advantage of this. Part of Ofwat's criticism is that they do not believe that these two companies have sound enough finances to take on the huge debts of building a huge reservoir project (or any other grand scheme, it seems).

Also, Ofwat have announced that the companies will be given the ability to raise large sums of money (in some cases over £100M) from customers' bills in order to carry out a proper study of the strategic water resource options for the South-east. This includes proper comparisons of reservoirs, water transfers from the west, and desalination plants. Whilst GARD welcomes this and has been pressing for many years that such proper studies should be done (Thames Water have been trying to avoid this ever since losing the 2010 Public Inquiry), we are concerned that the amount of money raised should not be a burden to consumers, should be efficiently and appropriately spent, and should be subject to proper public scrutiny at the end. We are seeking clarification , and we have a meeting with Ofwat in London on 3rd April, where we will be asking many questions. We will keep everyone informed.


 

Report from GARD  - March-April 2019

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

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.

As expected, Affinity confirm that their 'preferred plan' is to partner Thames Water in constructing the 'mega-reservoir' next to our villages. They would take an approximately 1/3 share, and the plan proposes to start in 2025, and have the reservoir ready by 2037-8.

Affinity have no better case for needing the water from this reservoir than Thames Water have. By their own admission, they have other possible sources of supply (water transfers to their Hertfordshire customers either from the Anglian Water network, or from Severn-Trent Water via the Grand Union canal from the River Trent). These water sources would be available earlier than the reservoir. Affinity have chosen to prefer the reservoir first, for the same cynical reasons as Thames: to build up a huge water surplus in the 2040s and 2050s that they can sell-on by 'transfer' to other water companies in the South-east. The analysis by GARD shows that the requirements of Affinity can be met by very simple and cheap schemes and improving leakage (sounds familiar?), until at least the 2060s.

GARD will be responding to Affinity, and making a very strong objection. CPRE Oxon have already come out against this and we hope to co-ordinate our response with local organisations. We urge all residents to make a strong response objecting to this and re-iterating our call for a Public inquiry before this plan is accepted. You can find out about the plan at  https://stakeholder.affinitywater.co.uk/water-resources.aspx   Affinity have said they are keen to engage with our local concerns and hear them, but so far they have only invited GARD along to the Stakeholders' meeting on 11th April. We hope to press for greater Oxfordshire organisations participation.

We should make sure the Oxfordshire voice is heard by this Hertfordshire water company. The local individual objections to Thames Water's plan made up one third of all individual responses sent in. We must try and dominate the Affinity consultation in the same way. Please copy your responses to me at gard.chair@gmail.com , and to local County and District councillors and to our MP, Ed Vaizey.

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. This affects the prospects of the reservoir being approved. Whilst it is not, in itself, something that would lead to the reservoir plans being taken off the agenda, it is a setback, and GARD, and local political groups, should push hard to take advantage of this. Part of Ofwat's criticism is that they do not believe that these two companies have sound enough finances to take on the huge debts of building a huge reservoir project (or any other grand scheme, it seems).

Also, Ofwat have announced that the companies will be given the ability to raise large sums of money (in some cases over £100M) from customers' bills in order to carry out a proper study of the strategic water resource options for the South-east. This includes proper comparisons of reservoirs, water transfers from the west, and desalination plants. Whilst GARD has been pressing for many years that such proper studies should be done (Thames Water have been trying to avoid this ever since losing the 2010 Public Inquiry), we are concerned that the amount of money raised should not be a burden to consumers, should be efficiently and appropriately spent, and should be subject to proper public scrutiny at the end. We are not clear that this is the case, and we have a meeting with Ofwat in London on 3rd April, where we will be asking many questions. We will keep everyone informed.


 

Act Now to stop the Reservoir Proposal! Thames Water brings proposes to bring reservoir forward by 10 years - construction would begin in 2025 !
- November 2018

Thames have announced that their new plan will propose to bring the Abingdon Reservoir forward to start construction in 2025 (a decade earlier than previously). The size of the reservoir (50% larger than that rejected at the 2010 Public Inquiry) is now more than 50% justified on selling water to other water companies, not just to satisfy London's growth, which Thames have been forced to admit will be less than their original exaggerated figures had proposed. Thames Water are now proposing to make the reservoir a joint project with Affinity Water (which supplies Hertfordshire and parts of Essex and Kent).

CLICK TO READ MORE


Thames Water concede the case for a second public consultation on their plans after pressure from Oxfordshire organisations
- November 2018

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.

CLICK TO READ MORE


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


Thames Water Draft Plan (dWRMP19) still fails to justify a reservoir! - GARD is calling for a second consultation on a revised plan
April 2018

Consultation on dWRMP19 closes – GARD's response
The consultation on Thames Water's draft Water Resources Management Plan (dWRMP19) closed at midnight on Sunday 29th April. GARD submitted a robust rebuttal to TW's plan, in a response running to nearly 200 pages. You can read and download our response by HYPERLINK "http://www.abingdonreservoir.org.uk/downloads/GARD response 29.04.2018.pdf" \n _blankclicking this link.Consultation on dWRMP19 closes – GARD's response
The consultation on Thames Water's draft Water Resources Management Plan (dWRMP19) closed at midnight on Sunday 29th April.GARD submitted a robust rebuttal to TW's plan, in a response running to nearly 200 pages. You can read and download our response by clicking this link.


CLICK TO READ MORE




GARD Chairman briefs Local Residents on Thames Water's revealed plans
March 2018

The Chairman of GARD, Dr Derek Stork, has given briefings to Local Residents at Drayton (28th February), Steventon (5th March) and East Hanney (6th March). He delivered a wide-ranging critique of Thames Water's programme and emphasised once again the dangers a reservoir poses to the Local Environment, Amenity and Population.

Dr Stork said, “ Thames Water’s plan grossly over-estimation of the problem of water shortage in the future to motivate the plan to build the enormous reservoir. We can see that over-estimation in the fact that 40% of the reservoir water will be sold on to other water-companies in the latter years of this century – proving that the need is not for Thames's own customers. Thames continue to have an unacceptable lack of ambition to target leakage and water efficiency, and they use biassed criteria in picking ‘climate change resistant’ new water sources. Their plan has a spectacular lack of transparency in how the decisions are made”.

Download PDF version of the presentation


GARD Report shows that proposed reservoir is not resilient against long droughts

August 2017

GARD's consultants have analysed the effect of including the proposed Reservoir into the Thames Water region's water supply system.

We have analysed the performance of the Reservoir in supplying water in the case of simulated droughts (using data from Thames Water's own simulations by their consultants -WS Atkins.
Our report shows that the Reservoir is not resilient and cannot supply the necessary water in the case of long droughts (longer than 17 months) - as such it will not help supply our region in the case of future, more extreme droughts caused by climate change.
Download PDF version


GARD's AGM 2017
April 2017
The AGM was held in St Michael's Church Hall in Steventon, and was well-attended. The members present were briefed by Hon Chairman, Dr Derek Stork, that the huge 'Abingdon' reservoir was amongst Thames Water's shortlisted projects for implementation in the 2019-2024 Water Resources Management Plan. GARD would be stepping up its opposition to these plans over the next 9-12 months, and moving onto a Campaigning footing. He listed and discussed the widespread local political support for GARD's position, including local MP, Ed Vaizey, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, Cllr Matthew Barber, Council for the Protection of Rural England, The Wantage and Grove Action Group and the four local affected Parish Councils (Steventon, Hanney, Drayton and Marcham).
Retiring Hon Secretary, Lesley Lovell was thanked for her work over the last decade and more, in supporting two Chairmen (Nick Thompson and Derek Stork). Also thanked were, Nick Rogers, the Hon Treasurer for over a decade, who was stepping down (but would remain on the committee), and retiring committee member, and former Hon Vice-Chairman, Michael Robson.

Download PDF version of the Chairman's report Document


GARD CHAIRMAN BRIEFS COUNCIL
January 2017
GARD Chairmen Derek Stork has recently briefed local Parish Councils on the Reservoir threat still contained in Thames Water's plans."
Download PDF version of the Council Briefing Document


GARD CHAIRMAN UPDATES THE PRESENT POSITION
November 2014
We continue to concentrate on holding Thames Water (TW) to account in their researches into the main options for a major water resource to supply London’s needs from 2030 onwards.
These options are:
*Re-use of treated waste water,
*Bulk water storage in times of plenty (new reservoirs),
*Transfer of water from the R.Severn to the R.Thames,
*Desalinisation.
MORE


GARD’s ACCLAIMED WEBSITE CONTINUES TO ATTRACT HUNDREDS OF VISITORS EACH MONTH
November 2014
The content of GARD’s website is widely recognised for its combination of technical professionalism and easy-to-read style. Remarkably, during the 12 months to end October 2014, this website received 7200 visits, of which 62% were repeats. Our website is designed to inform and to convince those logging on to it. Our aim is to target water experts, national & local governmental agencies & officials, politicians, journalists, teachers & students as well as a wide range of interested members of the public, especially local residents with a vital concern for the outcome of Thames Water’s planning intentions.


 

GARD REJECTS THAMES WATER’S WORKING ASSUMPTIONS EVALUATING SEVERN THAMES TRANSFER OPTION
September 2014

Following the Public Inquiry, the Inspector rejected Thames Water’s proposal for the Upper Thames Reservoir (UTR) near Abingdon for inclusion in their 2014-2019 Plan, and required them to examine in detail an alternative of a water transfer from the Severn to Thames. Thames Water are continuing their studies of this option which has long been advocated by GARD and others. At present, these studies are focusing on possible environmental impacts of such transfers.
MORE

Click here to download a PDF of GARD’s full report.


GARD’S RESPONSE TO THAMES WATER’S NEW CONSULTATION DOCUMENT July 2013

GARD has already responded in detail to Thames Water’s proposed plan by pointing out serious errors and inconsistencies in their calculations, and the data on which TW has based their plan. GARD has instead put forward alternatives which focus on water supply options. Click the link below for GARD’s full response to the public consultation, which has been sent to Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, the Consumer Council for Water, CPRE and the Cotswold Canal Trust
MORE

Click here to download a PDF of GARD’s full response to the public consultation.


RESERVOIR REJECTED – 2009 PLAN MUST BE RE-EVALUATED

The Secretary of State for DEFRA published the 2011 report by Inspector Wendy Burden on the Thames Water draft Water Resources Plan following the Public Inquiry. She has accepted the Inspector’s conclusions which were that the plan did not meet the statutory requirements under the Water Industry Act, and that the measures Thames Water proposed should be adopted were not fully justified by the evidence.
MORE

Click here to download a PDF of this press release.




PRESS RELEASE 10th May 2010
Thames Water reservoir proposals will cause environmental destruction

GARD has highlighted studies which show that Thames Water’s proposals for a new Abingdon reservoir would create great environmental damage and habitat destruction on and around the reservoir site. MORE

Click here to download a PDF of this press release.

 


PRESS RELEASE 26th April 2010
Abingdon Reservoir would increase serious flood risk 

GARD is warning that local land and villages will be hit by more flooding in the future if plans to build Abingdon Reservoir get the go‐ahead. The area is already susceptible to flooding with many homes in South Abingdon and nearby villages, such as Steventon, being flooded as recently as 2007. MORE

Click here to download a PDF of this press release.

 


PRESS RELEASE 12th April 2010
Thames Water reveals 10 year Abingdon reservoir construction blight.

GARD has brought to light an environmental report, commissioned by Thames Water, which sets out that their proposed Abingdon reservoir would create massive upheaval and environmental damage. There would be up to 900 vehicle movements on and off the site, potentially causing huge inconvenience and delays at the A34/Marcham interchange, which is already very busy at peak times. MORE

Click here to download a PDF of this press release.

 


We should change the landscape of peoples’ minds rather than the landscape of Oxfordshire.

Bruce Tremayne, recently retired Chairman of CPRE Oxfordshire, criticises the rush to construct a reservoir before other options have been exhausted... MORE