VILLAGERS are gearing up to relaunch their fight against Thames Water's infamous Abingdon reservoir.

The water company is set to publish its draft five-year plan for 2020-25 – including the latest reservoir plan – in the new year.

The plan will have been largely re-written since the reservoir was rejected by the Government in 2010.

But the Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD), which formed in 1976 in response to the first ever plans, is gearing up for a fresh fight.

Chairman Derek Stork said: "The Government will issue plans for consultation so it will all hot up: the public will be able to see what they're planning.

"If the reservoir is planned for those years we shall fight it and ask the Environment Secretary to look at it with a view to removing it because we don't think it should be there.

"We've put up a strong argument against it in the past and we're continuing to do so."

Mr Stork, who lives in Steventon, said in his recent meetings with Thames Water the company had been particularly guarded about what was in its latest five-year plan.

He said: "This time they're being very cagey about what they're going to do.

"Last time [when the reservoir was rejected] they didn't present any other options, but they're obviously more sophisticated now than they were.

"They have set of options that they want to start on in the next five years, then they'll have a formal look at what they want to bring forward in the 2030s."

The reservoir plan was rejected by Government at a public inquiry in 2010, when Thames Water was rapped for not doing enough research into other possible solutions to its water supply problems.

In recent years, the 2,000-hectare square of land between Marcham, East Hanney and Steventon, has been eyed up for a series of visionary schemes.

In 2013, Newbury planning consultant Ken Dijksman submitted formal plans for a 30,000-home new settlement there which he called Oxford Garden Town.

Later that same year, another group submitted a plan to the government to build an airport.

The site, owned by various landowners, has been described as the largest stretch of land with no planning restrictions (such as Green Belt) in the South East.

Thames Water formally put the reservoir plan back on the table in June this year, when it released a report analysing dozens of options to prevent drought in London.

The report concluded that South Oxfordshire was the only viable site for a reservoir in the South East and mooted several options for volume, with the largest being 150 million cubic metres, covering more square metres than Heathrow Airport.

Vale of White Horse District Council has also backed Thames Water's ambition by earmarking land for the reservoir in its Local Plan this year.

Thames Water spokesman Lee Irving said: "Abingdon reservoir is one of the many options we are looking at as part of our water resources management plan.

"That is still very much in the planning stages so no decision has been made.

"We’re due to launch our plan to public consultation early next year which will offer a lot more detail on how we plan to manage water resources across our region over the rest of this century, so we can’t comment at the moment as nothing is finalised."