Severn Trent Water seeks to allay fears over huge new Peak District reservoir

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A water company has sought to allay fears over plans for a huge new reservoir that would drown two ‘Dambusters’ dams and wild moorland in the Peak District.

Seven Trent Water insists proposals to boost capacity in the Upper Derwent Valley are at a “very early stage” and the firm will work with “all parties” to shape them. And it is “just one” of several possible ways of meeting demand and water lost to leaks.

The £300m scheme would affect the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs in a hugely popular part of the Peak. There are two proposals: a fourth reservoir on the high moors above Howden or one which would submerge the listed Derwent and Howden dams used for practice flights by 617 Squadron, known as the ‘Dambusters’, in World War Two.

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It would also see the loss of homes, roads, ancient woodland and potentially the Fairholmes visitor centre and car park. Borehole drilling for geological survey work has been ongoing for months. The scheme is opposed by a growing coalition of countryside, environmental and local groups.

A Severn Trent spokesperson said: “With a further 12 million people expected to be living in the UK by 2050, we are working on ways to manage the increasing demand for water in the long term. We’re already delivering on plans to reduce demand, tackle burst pipes and develop new sources of drinking water, including the possible increase of water storage capacity at the Upper Derwent Valley. We have a duty to explore all possibilities, of which boosting capacity in the Upper Derwent Valley is just one.

“We are still at a very early stage in this process and will be continuing to work with all parties involved to shape these plans. This includes stakeholders and local residents, with whom we’ve already begun liaising. If anyone has any questions, they can contact us by emailing [email protected].”

The scheme is opposed by groups including the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), Derwent and Hope Woodland Parish Council and South Yorkshire Climate Alliance.

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The BMC said: “Any of the plans under consideration would represent a major development in the very heart of the Peak District and would result in the destruction of ancient woodland and other habitats; irreparable damage to the landscape; long term closure, destruction and rerouting of access ways; and set a terrible precedent for how our National Parks are managed for future generations.”

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Countryside charity, CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire, says it is organising a coalition of opposition. Chief executive Tom Thompson said: “We are resolute in our opposition to any of the proposals by Severn Trent in the Upper Derwent Valley.”

On Twitter, Ian Carey said he had been trying to understand the proposals but found them “very techy and difficult to understand.”

He added: “Plain English version would be useful? What I do know is that global heating will make water supply problematic in years to come. More discussion needed.”

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The combined full capacity of Ladybower, Derwent and Howden is 464 billion litres. Severn Trent Water loses 151.3 billion litres a year.

Yorkshire Water - which imposed a hosepipe ban affecting Sheffield in August - loses 103.3 billion.