Residents opposed to plans for a new reservoir in the Vale of White Horse district turned out to protest at a community information event on Friday.

The event, which took place throughout the afternoon into the early evening at Hanney Memorial Hall between Abingdon and Grove, was run by Thames Water for locals to pose questions to staff and learn more about the project.

Those in the community opposed to the project assembled with signs and placards outside the hall to make their feelings known to Thames Water.

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The protesters accused the water company of “running yet another PR stunt” and failing to address points of concern they have raised to the provider on numerous occasions.

The protest was spearheaded by Vale of White Horse District Council Chair and Hendreds and Harwell division Oxfordshire County Councillor Sally Povolotsky.

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Ms Povolotsky said: “On every single occasion we have approached Thames Water with technical questions we don’t get any relevant answers. We have no need for a reservoir.

“There would be nowhere for this water to go if it floods and look how badly flooding is affecting this area already. Everything Thames is touting is fantasy.”

Local Cathy McLellan added: “We’re here to have our voices heard.

"From an environmental perspective, a reservoir is not the right answer – it’s ridiculous. There’s no substance or studies to back everything Thames is saying.”

Those opposing the reservoir’s creation are instead proposing fixing leaks and water transfer as an alternative.

Thames Water has been pushing plans to make the project a reality for over two decades, maintaining that the planned reservoir, which would be built on 6.7 square-kilometres of farmland between Steventon, East Hanney and Drayton, would help secure water for around 15 million people across the South East, supplying Thames Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water customers.  

Leonie Dubois, head of engagement, land and consents at Thames Water said: “Sharing information at events like this is hugely important; community engagement is at the heart of our design process.

"We’re showing people what the timeline and next steps of the process will be.

“There are lots of people we speak to that understand the need for the reservoir. Not everybody is against this. This is a huge opportunity for recreation, employment and to improve the biodiversity of the area.

“Our water resources management plan fine tunes all the detail as to why the reservoir was chosen here.

"A rigorous analysis has been done by experts that have come from world class engineering companies. We recognise that we’re still at an early stage of the process.”