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This website has been created using the best information available to GARD at the time of its compilation. The opinions expressed are based on GARD’s perception of the issues involved and the stance taken by Thames Water.





For pre 2021 News click here!


Excellent Local Response to WRSE
Emerging Regional Plan

February 2022
Complete Rejection by Oxfordshire organisations and residents. 

A message from GARD chair - Derek Stork

" It has been a very busy and encouraging time for the past couple of months.
Now the dust has settled on the WRSE consultation, and before our next challenge, I'd like to add my thanks to all GARD members and supporters who responded so forcefully to the WRSE emerging regional plan. I'd like to thank you all for your physical support too, with leaflets and meetings. It is really heartening.

You can find the GARD response on our downloads page

I'd also like to thank all the elected representatives who supported us throughout this campaign and in recent months. This was started by Oxfordshire County Council but rapidly taken up by the Vale of White Horse District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and our MPs, David Johnston (Wantage) and Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon). The local parishes in the area to be affected by the Reservoir overwhelmingly also wrote to WRSE rejecting the plans.

The County’s policy is stated here:

The Vale of White Horse DC’s policy statement (including link to the consultation response) is here:

Finally, the South Oxfordshire DC’s policy statement (and link to the consultation response) is here:

The most striking, and to me the most powerful, aspect of this support was that it was entirely unanimous and non-partisan at all levels.

We at GARD think that this is the key to successfully opposing this monstrous project. A united non-partisan campaign is what we have always sought and will continue to seek. We look forward to working with all elected representatives on this.

"Here's to success in the future.”

Derek Stork


Abingdon Reservoir August 2021
Latest News from GARD

We haven’t been in touch for a while but rest assured that GARD Officers have continued to monitor the activities of the water companies, engage with local and national stakeholders and provide informed and robust opposition to the proposed reservoir.

To recap – as a result of GARD and others’ opposition, the regulators have required the water companies to undertake research to evaluate the pros and cons of the reservoir and alternative strategies, before a final recommendation can be made.  Many of you will be familiar with a ‘gated process’.  This is when major projects are broken down into phases, each marked by a ‘gate’ at which reports are provided to decision makers who review and decide on next steps. 

Well, Gate One has now been reached and reports are available for all the strategic options, but, most importantly, the reservoir (now being called ‘South East Strategic Reservoir Option – SESRO), London Effluent Reuse and Severn – Thames Transfer.  The reports are superficially detailed but, in our view, flawed.  Figures are quoted with almost no  justification, there is no reference to key documents relating to embedded and operational carbon budgets, capital and operational costs, resilience claims and, most crucially, no reference to recent flooding studies.  In all three documents, the proposal is to advance the projects to Gate Two.  GARD has now submitted a detailed response to the Gate One reports.

If you are interested in reading more, here is the link to the reports on the GARD website (Documents to download page).  They are long documents but the Executive Summaries are only 2 pages and give you the gist. The GARD response is also on this page.  http://www.abingdonreservoir.org.uk/downloads.html

We have also expressed our concerns that the documents were released in an opaque manner and without, as far as we know, any notification to any of the local Oxfordshire organisations who have asked to be kept informed throughout the process. This all indicates that OFWAT and RAPID (the umbrella group that brings the regulators together) are not committed to a transparent process.

We have gained important allies since the local council elections in May.  Most notably, the new OCC councillor for Hendreds and Harwell (which includes Steventon) Sally Povolotsky,  has been vocal in her support.  We are aiming to ensure that all relevant councils and councillors are well briefed and fully understand GARD’s position and the evidence behind it.


2021 AGM

Due to Covid related restrictions, we were unable to hold our AGM last year.  We hope that by this Autumn, we will all feel more comfortable about attending meetings.  This year’s AGM will be 7.30pm on 1st December at St Michael’s Hall, Steventon (the small hall next to the church).  We do hope to see you there.

May 2021

Following the local elections on 6th May, there have been significant changes to the makeup of Oxfordshire County Council.  Click here for an up to date list of councillors and their email addresses. GARD officers will be seeking opportunities to brief those that represent us to ensure that they have the best up to date understanding of the challenges regarding the proposed reservoir.

September 2020 - Newsletter

It has been six months since our last update but despite the limitations of Covid lockdown and the cancellation of our AGM and planned meetings with water companies, regulators and local stakeholders, GARD officers have continued to mount vigorous opposition to the reservoir. Many of us have become used to virtual meetings over the last few months and whilst no substitute for ‘face to face’ they have proved an efficient form of communication.

Officers have participated in meetings with Thames Water’s Water Resource Forum, the new managing director of RAPID (a group which brings OfWAT and other water regulators together) and representatives from both Water Resources East and Water Resources South-East. These meetings are all ensuring that we stay in touch with policy and development issues. GARD is most definitely seen by water professionals and the regulators as a well-informed group who have a significant role to play in monitoring and informing the research that has been required by the regulators before any decision on a reservoir can be made.

GARD’s professional consultant has completed a detailed critique and concluded that the proposed reservoir would not be resilient to long droughts. We remain very worried that the reservoir plan is deeply flawed and that this limited approach to future needs could result in serious supply issues in a long period of drought. Elsewhere, we note that the Chalk Stream and Angler interest groups have come out in favour of an alternative, early deliverable scheme to remove the need for abstraction from the Chiltern streams. This scheme uses water transfers from existing Thames Water reservoirs, and would be available a decade earlier than even the earliest Abingdon reservoir date. GARD believes that this scheme, similar to the one we suggested last year, would remove any need for the Abingdon Reservoir as a scheme to 'save' the Chalk Stream habitats.

The flood risk study that GARD has commissioned has been completed and shows that Thames Water’s estimates of the necessary flood compensation volume have been underestimated by around 60 – 70%. This was well worth doing and will strengthen our position still further.

Sadly, our AGM has had to be postponed. The committee members have all indicated a willingness to continue in post. We plan to send out a full report to members of activities since the last AGM in Spring 2019 and we are also planning a virtual ‘Meet the Officers’ gathering in October, which will provide an opportunity for you to ask questions and join in discussion about GARD’s future direction and activities.


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