This week Catherine Bearder MEP wrote a letter to the local press in Oxford on the proposed Thames Water reservoir at Abingdon. Please see below for the full text:
A public enquiry is taking place on the future of Thames Water's proposed reservoir at Abingdon.
That this enquiry is even happening is quite telling. The Secretary of State for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs refused to accept Thames Water's proposal and declared a public enquiry necessary because, in his view, "[Thames Water had] not provided adequate justification for its preferred programme of options. Nor [had] it given enough consideration to a sufficient range of options."
Some important questions will be answered at this enquiry. Is a super- sized reservoir really needed to cover predicted water shortages? Is this reservoir worth causing irreparable damage to Oxfordshire's valuable environment? Does the huge cost of the project really provide value for money to Thames Water's customers? I suspect the answer to all these questions is no.
I would encourage Thames Water to go back to the drawing board and deliver a more environmentally sustainable proposal. The predicted water shortage is small and it has been suggested that by making their current water supplies more efficient and investing money to stop leakages, Thames Water could solve the problems of water shortages without having to blight our countryside.
In the meantime I would encourage the new Secretary of State to reject the proposals when they go to her desk after the enquiry.
Catherine Bearder MEP
Member of the European Parliament for South East England