Questions over the necessity and transparency of plans for a “mega” reservoir near Abingdon have been raised by MP Layla Moran.

This morning, The MP for Oxford West and Abingdon spoke in a Westminster Hall debate and said that Water Resources South East (WRSE), has overestimated the future need for water supply.

The proposed Abingdon Reservoir would cover farmland between Steventon, East Hanney and Drayton. It is being suggested as one of several options to meet future water shortfalls across the region, which are predicted to be as much as 1.1 billion litres a day by 2040.

Herald Series: Map of proposed land for the reservoir Map of proposed land for the reservoir

Ms Moran believes this is an overestimation and said WRSE has predicted a population increase of four million by 2060 but Office of National Statistics put the figure at less than a third of that growth.

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In Westminster Hall Ms Moran raised concerns that the reservoir will have “catastrophic” consequences on the local wildlife and disturb villagers with eight to 10 years of construction.

Herald Series: MP Layla Moran speaking at Westminster HallMP Layla Moran speaking at Westminster Hall

She added that WSRE is made up of six water companies, including Thames Water, all interested in “maximising their profits”.

Other options proposed instead of a reservoir include the transfer of water from other parts of the country and more recycling of wastewater. Ms Moran would like to see these alternatives explored more.

Plans for a reservoir were first revealed in 1996 and have resurfaced several times and the MP said the campaign feels like “Groundhog Day”.

Ms Moran said: “We have been here before and millions of pounds and copious times were spent fighting it. All I ask is before we round on the merry-go-round again, let’s pause, reflect, properly consult, and make sure every available option is assessed fully and transparently.”

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Herald Series: Proposed land for reservoirProposed land for reservoir

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Our regulator’s decision to include the proposed reservoir in the list of 18 potential water resource schemes to progress to the next stage of the assessment process means we will continue investigating it as a possible option to help meet growing demand for water as the population grows and our climate changes.

“We recognise current concerns about the local impact of a potential large-scale infrastructure project, and want to expand our ongoing dialogue with stakeholders including councillors, MPs and the wider community to address these; alongside discussing the long term benefits a new development could bring including job and skill creation, extensive recreational opportunities and improved biodiversity and flood defences to the local community.”

“As custodians of the environment we take our responsibility to protect and enhance it extremely seriously while also ensuring our customers have a secure and sustainable water supply now and for future generations.”

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