Abingdon reservoir plans progress

16 November 2022

Landscape view of farmland

Thames Water plans continue to progress for a new major reservoir near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.


  • Thames Water plans continue to progress for a new major reservoir near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
  • The NFU has promoted an integrated approach to water management for many years.
  • The NFU asks that expansion of strategic water supply infrastructure should be carried out at minimum disruption to farmers, land owners and tenants.
  • A statutory consultation on the reservoir is expected in 2025.

 Thames Water’s plans for a reservoir south west of Abingdon, in Oxfordshire, continue to progress. The NFU understands that plans have been in circulation for some years, and, the reservoir will be detailed in Thames Waters Water Resource Management Plan and the Water Resources South East Draft Regional Plan both of which were launched for consultation on 14 November.

The South East Strategic Reservoir Option (SESRO), also known as Abingdon Reservoir is predicted to start construction in 2028, going into supply in 2037. The size has not yet been determined; however plans suggest it could cover a footprint of almost 7km².

More information from Thames Water on the regional plan for the South East, including the reservoir in Abingdon can be found here: Regional water resources | Regulation | About us | Thames Water.

NFU South East Environment and Land Use Adviser Izzy Budden said: “Our advice to affected members is to contact Savills, as land agents of Thames Water, through their helpline, and to seek professional advice through a land agent with experience in the DCO process. Please contact CallFirst to notify us if you are affected to help us understand the impacts this may have on members.”  

The NFU acknowledges that the expansion of strategic water supply infrastructure is a vital component of improving long-term, multi-sector water management as a critical response to climate change.

However, the NFU believes that all new public water supply infrastructure must be designed and built to deliver multi-sector benefit (including agriculture) such that agricultural water needs are recognised as an explicit part of resource use plans. The NFU also believes that both the design and implementation during construction must be carried out in a way that minimises impact on land ownership and farming operations.

The development process must protect the needs of landowners and ensure that they are actively involved in the decision-making process at all stages; and that decision making process is timely and transparent.

We will be working closely with Thames Water to ensure any development reflects the needs of landowners and farming businesses at the proposed site and the wider area.

We will continue to highlight the issues and impacts that such large infrastructure projects can have on farmland and ensure our members are a priority throughout the process.

The NFU’s full position statement on reservoirs can be read here: nfu-position-statement-on-reservoirs.pdf (nfuonline.com)

Contact NFU CallFirst on 024 7685 8500.

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