THAMES Water have been labelled "impatient" by concerned householders amid a second public consultation over a huge reservoir near Abingdon.

The company is unable to provide even an estimate of the overall cost of the project, which is reported by critics to be upwards of £1.5 billion, and have not been able to clarify the earliest time which the project would start.

Residents’ fears about the project appear not to have been eased by a consultation day at Steventon Village Hall on Thursday, with a vocal campaigning group claiming the company was "in chaos" over the proposals, which could see a reservoir the size of Heathrow Airport built near Drayton, Steventon and the Hanneys.

The event, which attracted about 100 people to the village hall to inspect plans, follows the company’s announcement in August that it would hold a second consultation on the project, following widespread pressure from campaigners and local politicians.

Speaking at the event, Steventon villager Paul Sexton, 58, said: “I think Thames Water are just trying to get a commercial advantage and that is their primary project.

“Have they considered transferring water from other places? Why south Oxfordshire to feed London? They don’t seem to get it and they don’t seem to go away.”

He added: “They are in too much of a rush. It's all about making money. They are not being patient and listening to residents.”

Derek Stork, from the Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD), said: “This second consultation has put them into chaos.

“Thames Water's revised plan brings the reservoir forward in spite of the fact that they have now been forced to tackle leakage (saving over 300 million litres per day by 2045 – equal to the supply from the reservoir) and have been forced to back down on their population growth figures.

“They no longer need a large reservoir to supply London, so claim that they have potential customers from other water companies.

“Opposition must be mounted now, as otherwise an unstoppable escalator to the imposition of this project will be set in motion.”

The timeline could change, with a government decision possible next year, but Thames Water has not ruled out work starting before 2025, with completion due in 2037.

GARD claimed it was "astonishing" that the company had not given an indication of the full price, and believe it is more than £1.5 billion.

Thames Water’s Miles Evans said: “It was great to meet residents in Steventon and nearby villages to hear their views and opinions which will help shape our Water Resources Management Plan.

“With climate change and high levels of population growth predicted, it is vital we bring in measures to make sure the taps keep running.

“We urge people to have their say by November 28.”

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