PRESSURE is building to hold a second public inquiry into Thames’ Water’s planned reservoir near Abingdon.

Wantage MP Ed Vaizey and Oxfordshire County Council are now both supporting the move, which could delay plans to build the Heathrow-sized facility by 2035.

Speaking at a council cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon, Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD) chair Derek Stork suggested a new inquiry - following the first in 2010 - was needed to gain the ‘factual clarifications and evidence-based justifications the council and others rightly seek’.

Mr Stork said: “Thames Water want this reservoir because building it will provide a boost to their balance sheet. They aren’t interested in the cheaper and better alternatives because they won’t make as much money. They are putting the interest of wealthy shareholders before the public.”

Thames Water refute the suggestion and say 'any supply to a neighbouring company must be cost-neutral and not for profit under water industry regulations.'

Councillor Yvonne Constance said the council was not wholly objecting to the reservoir but was calling for more details.

Addressing Mr Stork, she said she was ‘very pleased’ that the council had agreed to support his position on seeking clarity, particularly on alternatives and water demand and transfer.

That followed calls from Mr Vaizey, who had said earlier: “I’ve called for a public inquiry to make sure all the arguments are heard.

“This could have a huge and phenomenal impact and therefore all the arguments have to be raised. People might think that having a public inquiry is a gimmick, [but] the fact that we had a public inquiry last time and it found in favour of the residents proves that it is a good way to rehearse the need for this reservoir.”

Meanwhile, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have added to criticism of the plans, as the November 28 deadline looms for the end of a second public consultation, leaving the public a week to provide feedback.

CPRE, whose latest remarks add to a chorus of critics opposing Thames’ plans, is also calling for a public inquiry.

Trustee Professor Richard Harding said: “It will obviously have severe consequences to the environment and communities in Oxfordshire. The loss and damages to land, resources, heritage and communities would be substantial. The proposed area of flooding is a massive, hugely significant multi-period historical and archaeological landscape - the reality of what is there has not been grasped.

“CPRE considers that a convincing case has yet to be made on the need, viability and consequences of this proposed development. The uncertainties on future demand, and long-term population projections, shows how uncertain it is that the reservoir will be needed.

He continued: “Much more work is needed to justify the reservoir [and] a full, comprehensive environmental and natural capital assessment is needed.”

Last month, the council said it had concerns over the size of and need for the reservoir, while in late October Steventon residents labelled the company ‘impatient’.

Thames Waters spokesman Mike Benke said: “The reservoir forms part of our water resources management plan, which sets out how we’ll provide a reliable and resilient water supply for 80 years.

“The reservoir, which will help tackle issues such as huge population growth and climate change, has the potential to support the water-stressed South East region.”

Residents can comment at