Council and NFU seek to ensure residents’ and landowners’ views are considered in new reservoir plans

North Kesteven District Council has said it is engaging with Anglian Water over the company’s proposals site a major new reservoir south east of Sleaford.

A map showing the reservoir on the landscape and how it might benefit leisure and conservation.
A map showing the reservoir on the landscape and how it might benefit leisure and conservation.

Anglian Water has confirmed that it has selected a location between the villages of Scredington, Helprignham and Swaton as the proposed site.

The company says it is vital for ensuring Lincolnshire’s water supply through droughts and climate change over the next 25 years.

Local planning authority North Kesteven District Council says it is aware of Anglian Water’s proposals and is engaging with them, with a view to understanding its potential impact for both the immediate and wider area.

Laura Wesley published this shot of the proposed layout of the reservoir near Scredington.

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But a council spokesman added: “Ultimately, as this is a major national infrastructure project, the final decision on its future will be made by the Secretary of State, not the council.

“Our roles as a planning authority are limited and restricted. These are limited to: providing information, data and advice to a promoter – in this case Anglian Water; challenge and scrutinise a proposal in terms of policy considerations and local impacts; and to ensure that consultation is undertaken in a manner that enables residents and businesses in and around the district to make their views known, such that they are given due weight and consideration.”

A consultation website will be launched soon, and information is available on Anglian Water’s website about how to contact them on the proposals as the consultations get under way in October.Residents who could see their homes and livelihoods lost say they are “devastated” by the news of compulsory purchase orders in the offing.

An online petition started by resident Laura Wesley is gathering momentum after being set up last week and has already attracted more than 2,000 signatures.

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The reservoir would be surrounded by banks like this. Image: Anglian Water

“Not only is it affecting people’s homes, people are losing their farms, all that people have worked so hard for, passed down in generations, just being taken from under them! This is really affecting people’s lives,” she says.

Dr Geoff Darch, Water Resources Strategy Manager for Anglian Water has responded: “This project will build on decades of existing investment in resilient infrastructure – like a 400km strategic pipeline which will move water from the north to the south and east of the region, existing networks of reservoirs and water storage, as well as continuing to help customers to reduce demand and driving down leakage to world leading low levels.

“But we know, that to keep taps running in the future, we’ll need more water storage in our region, in the form of new reservoirs,” he said.

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“Following a thorough and multi-stage site selection assessment process, assessing a wide range of criteria, we have now identified the best performing location for a new reservoir.

A map of the affected area. Photo: Google

“We think it’s right those who are potentially most affected find out first and have the opportunity to ask us any questions about what this might mean for them. We are now in contact with those who own property and live within the proposed area and who will be potentially affected by our proposals.

“We know there is wide interest in the new reservoir. The project will create a new strategic water resource to support water supply to Anglian customers. It will help secure water supplies for future generations, so we can address the challenges of a changing climate, environmental protection and population growth. Our proposals go beyond just building a new reservoir, we will create new habitats for wildlife and places for people and create great natural places to explore, and exciting new leisure facilities for people to enjoy.”

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Dr Darch added: “A formal consultation process will begin this October, when we will give communities and wider stakeholders the opportunity to have their say and to help shape the development of the design of the reservoir and inform the economic, social, environmental and health opportunities it could create for the local area.”

Local councils will be consulted on the plans, with a final decision being made by the government due to the scale.

Anglian Water says that it considered how local people, the environment, landscape and flood protection would be impacted in picking a site.

Jack Cousland is a landowner and arable farmer, along with his brother, of 500 acres at Scredington and said the news has come ”out of the blue”.

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He said: “We started farming here in 1965 and after so many years that will be it.”

He said it would be hard for farmers to move if only part of their land fell within the designated area.

"The whole area is going to suffer 10 years of upheaval and construction traffic. There will be a long period of uncertainty with building not starting for eight to ten years.”

He added that it took much longer to make Rutland Water the attractive place it is now.

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NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: “The NFU fully supports the need to expand strategic water supply infrastructure in the Anglian Water region as a critical response to climate change and population growth. The past few months have demonstrated the pressure our water resources are facing.

“It is critical that the importance of water to build resilience in our domestic food production systems is recognised and the NFU believes that farming businesses must be able to benefit from the additional water resources that new reservoirs will provide.

“However, such major reservoir schemes can have significant adverse impacts on farm businesses and the people involved. It’s vital that the design and implementation during construction must be carried out in a way that minimises the impact on land ownership and farming operations.

“The development process must protect the needs of farmers, landowners and tenants to ensure they are actively involved in decision-making at all stages.

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“We will be working to support any members affected by these schemes and to ensure that agricultural water needs are recognised as an explicit part of future resource use plans.”