THE Angling Trust have said controversial plans for a new reservoir the size of Heathrow Airport to be built near Abingdon should go ahead immediately.

Citing the need to protect chalk streams, the group said the proposed facility, which has faced widespread opposition for years, was ‘urgently needed’.

Thames Water is currently proposing to build the reservoir by 2043.

James Champkin, Campaigns Officer for the Angling Trust, explained: "At the moment, the water companies simply do not have the resilience in infrastructure to cope with dry periods without destroying our rivers, but Thames Water now has the opportunity to take a leading role in long-term environmental stewardship.

“We are calling on them to bring forward the construction of the long-overdue new reservoir at Abingdon to harvest surplus water to use during times of scarcity, and keep our precious rivers flowing. We are also urging anglers to make their voices heard by the deadline of April 29.”

Earlier this month, Oxfordshire County Council tore apart Thames Water's case for building the reservoir.

It said it did not trust the company's forecast of massive population growth.

In a statement, Thames Water responded: “We’re grateful to the Angling Trust and everyone else who has contributed to our consultation. We’ll be reviewing all the feedback and will publish our response in August.”