Abingdon Reservoir – Act Now!


3rd March 2022


Water Resources South East (a group of water companies including Thames Water and Affinity Water) are currently consulting on their Emerging Regional Plan for the area.  The Abingdon Reservoir is central to this Plan, with proposals to start in 2025.

For nearly 20 years, CPRE Oxfordshire has been challenging Thames Water’s case for a mega-reservoir near Abingdon in Oxfordshire.  It was even turned down by a Planning Inspector at a Public Inquiry.

But Thames Water is still determined to press ahead, now with an even larger proposal for a reservoir that would store 150 billion litres of water, cover 10 square km of the Oxfordshire countryside and have an embankment of 80 feet high.  They now call it the ‘SESRO’ – the South East Strategic Reservoir Option.

All our local councils and MPs are opposed to the reservoir, but it is also vital that local people make their views known.

The information on the consultation is here: https://wrse.uk.engagementhq.com/the-proposed-solution

You can reply via the online feedback form, or email: contact@wrse.org.uk

We strongly recommend taking a look at the GARD campaign website, which includes a simple guide on how to respond – https://www.abingdonreservoir.org.uk/

CPRE Oxfordshire’s View:

Securing a sustainable water future for the region is a critical task, for both people and the environment.

Whilst at first glance building a mega-reservoir might seem a simple solution, in fact it is a project with massive environmental and carbon costs that would add significantly to customers’ bills – whilst sitting comfortably on Thames Water’s Asset List! This is a fixed, non-adaptable response that would take a long time to deliver and even then would not actually bring more water into the region or provide security against a 1 in 500 year drought.

Instead, a number of smaller schemes (such as water transfers and water re-use) should be explored, to provide more flexible solutions, not only offering longer-term resilience but also quicker relief to our precious chalk streams that are currently being devastated by over-abstraction.   

Alongside a more realistic assessment of likely population growth (based on Office for National Statistics figures rather than overblown growth scenarios) and a more ambitious approach to fixing leaks (bringing Thames Water more in line with industry averages), it seems likely that there would be no need for the SESRO (Abingdon Reservoir). 

We therefore believe the case for the SESRO has not been effectively made and should be dropped from the Emerging Plan entirely, or at the very least pushed back to later in the programme of actions so that this enormously costly project is only undertaken as a very last resort.