New reservoirs are ‘urgent’ and must be given green light, UK warned

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Dry, cracked earth seen at Baitings Reservoir in Ripponden, West Yorkshire (PA Wire)
Dry, cracked earth seen at Baitings Reservoir in Ripponden, West Yorkshire (PA Wire)

The UK must push through the construction of new reservoirs to secure future water supplies, the head of the National Infrastructure Commission chairman, has warned.

Sir John Armitt has warned that the need for more reservoirs is “urgent” amid the looming threats of more droughts.

The last reservoir for public water supply was built in 1991. Thames Water has spent more than 15 years trying to build one in Oxfordshire but county councils pushed back due to the feared impacts on wildlife and residents.

It’s situations like this where the Government should intervene and give projects the green light, Mr Armitt told The Daily Telegraph.

“The urgency is increasing and, really, if we’re going to be in a better position by 2040 to 2050, those sorts of decisions are going to be needed to be made and an agreement to go ahead certainly by 2025,”

“If you constantly fail to make sure that the basic infrastructure that everyone needs to live their lives is not being provided, then people aren’t going to vote for you sooner or later.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that more than half of England may be moved into drought status, as a result of the driest summer in 50 years.

Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Herts and north London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and the east Midlands have already been placed in drought conditions.

On Saturday around 7,000 people in Surrey were left without water following “technical issues” while pipes were being replaced at Netley Mill Water Treatment Works.

Water supplies are beginning to return but councillor Liz Townsend said people were “annoyed”, adding “the service is not fit for purpose”.

The Lib Dem representative for Cranleigh and Ewhurst said: “We’re no strangers to water loss. We’ve had interruptions to supplies in February and July and one village has had three interruptions this year alone.“This is happening more and more, and the service is not fit for purpose, and residents are rightly getting very annoyed.

Thames Water said engineers were identifying and unblocking air pockets in the system, to help get supplies back to normal “as quickly as possible”.