Anglian Water - Fens Reservoir
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Update – 30 May 2024

Second phase public consultation for proposed reservoir in the Fens now open.

Over the next ten weeks, communities are invited to provide feedback on the latest proposals for a new reservoir, which will supply enough water for around a quarter of a million homes, as well as protecting the environment by enabling a reduction in the amount of water taken from rivers and underground aquifers elsewhere in the region.

Anglian Water, working in partnership with Cambridge Water, has launched a second phase of public consultation for a proposed reservoir in the Cambridgeshire Fens. Open from the 30 May to 9 August, the water companies are now welcoming feedback on their latest proposals and are set to host a series of in-person events across the region.

A new artist’s impression of the reservoir was released in April ahead of consultation commencing today and more details on its emerging design are now available. The proposals include how the reservoir could link to nearby towns and villages and offer exciting, new opportunities for wildlife and recreation.

The water companies are also providing information on options and locations for the associated water infrastructure needed to fill the reservoir, treat the water, and transfer it to homes and businesses in the region. This includes a combination of channels, pipelines and different types of equipment to ensure safe drinking water is on tap when it’s needed.

The reservoir proposals feature walking, cycling and horse riding routes, and has the potential to host a range of other recreational activities including water sports.

The emerging reservoir design seeks to celebrate the local landscape and create a new destination, while providing opportunities to deliver ecological benefits and promote sustainability. Through innovative design, new wetland habitats could be created, enhancing biodiversity and providing educational hubs to teach future generations about how water shapes their lives and the environment.

An independent report published by Anglian Water last year, commissioned with Capital Economics, revealed that the East of England is set to be the country's most challenged region outside London within the next two decades.

Projections from the Met Office show that the East of England will become hotter and drier in summer, and wetter in winter, and the region's population is set to grow with more than 720,000 new residents. In addition, there is a need to leave more water in precious environments, for example chalk streams. All of these factors mean that there is a pressing need to store more winter water in order to cope with summer droughts. Unless bold action is taken, the demand for water will outstrip the available supply within the next decade, making the reservoir project vital for the continued growth and prosperity of the region.

The reservoir would make the most of available water in the region, capturing river water during wetter months that would otherwise drain to the sea and storing it for use in drier months. This ability to store surplus water provides resilience and additional environmental opportunities.

Ensuring a resilient water supply for the future forms a key component of Anglian Water’s largest-ever, £9 billion business plan for 2025-30, currently with Ofwat for approval. Over the next five years, the company will continue work on its network of strategic water pipelines, which will transport water from wetter to drier areas of its region. The company’s plans for this period also propose £184 million of investment to renew 688km of climate vulnerable water mains.

Cambridge Water’s £819 million plan for 2025-30 is also the company’s largest-ever investment programme. As well as planning to invest £40 million to ensure excellent water quality and resilient assets, Cambridge Water will also invest £19 million to protect and enhance the environment. Other key commitments include launching a ten-year universal metering programme and continuing to deliver ambitious leakage reductions of around 20% over the five years to 2030.

Anglian Water and Cambridge Water completed a multi-stage assessment to identify preferred ways for transferring water to and from the reservoir and the infrastructure needed. They also looked at the potential benefits and opportunities that the different options might unlock, including whether they could enhance the environment, support existing water resources management initiatives or potentially unlock navigation opportunities.

Geoff Darch, Head of Supply Demand at Anglian Water said:

“The proposed new reservoir in the Fens is a key part of our plans to meet regional challenges to water supply. Together with its associated water infrastructure, the reservoir will create a much-needed new water resource, whilst also presenting significant social, economic and environmental opportunities. We’re planning to include features that local communities would value and use.

“The reservoir and its associated water infrastructure could also play a role in our wider plans, working in partnership with other organisations, for the region to support agriculture, promote peat restoration, manage river flooding, and other important needs. In the time that we’ve been developing the reservoir project, we’ve seen one of the hottest summers on record and one of the wettest winters. It’s a timely reminder of the how our region is changing and why we need to take action to prepare for the future.”

Natalie Akroyd, Director of Quality and Environment for Cambridge Water, added:

“We are looking forward to engaging with the local community and other key stakeholders over the coming weeks to update them on our latest proposals. Through this consultation, you can help inform the decisions we make so that the reservoir can best support the region. We will be introducing a range of new information to the public, so to ensure this is as accessible as possible, we will provide a full programme of community events, detailed project brochures and a range of other supporting materials.

“The reservoir is an exciting opportunity for our region, offering more than a public water supply. We want to create an outdoor destination that local communities can be proud of, and we want to hear your thoughts on how we can achieve this.”

A full programme of public events can be found on the project website including community webinars where information will be shared and the team will be available to answer questions. All the proposals are now open for comment from the public, whose feedback will help Anglian Water and Cambridge Water to further understand any potential impacts and opportunities from the project.

A range of new consultation materials have been published on the project website, alongside interactive maps and clear instructions on how the public can have their say.

For more information on the public consultation and wider project, please visit:

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