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Water company puts damaging Peak District reservoir expansion plans on hold

28th June 2023

We celebrate as Severn Trent Water pulls back from plans to expand its reservoirs in the heart of the Peak District National Park.

Public statement from CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire…

CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire are pleased and relieved that the Severn Trent Water company (STW) will no longer be pursuing major reservoir building projects in the Peak District’s Upper Derwent Valley.

STW had set out options to expand water storage capacity in the much-loved valley, including raising the levels of existing reservoirs, or possibly building a new fourth reservoir near Slippery Stones.

But the company have just announced that they have now “discounted the reservoir options that we were exploring due to their significant environmental impact”.

Their proposals – due to be submitted on July 17 to the national water regulatory body (RAPID) – have been dropped, at least for now.

The company say their decision follows environmental concerns raised by a wide range of consultees.

Although they are no longer actively pursuing the reservoirs projects, STW say they will continue to “explore the potential costs, benefits and timing” to inform future decisions.

CPRE PDSY welcomes the news

CPRE PDSY was, in coalition with many other local and national conservation and outdoor activity organisations, just about to launch a major campaign to draw attention to the damaging plans ahead of the July deadline.

“We’re very relieved that Severn Trent have finally realised how unacceptable their plans were to landscape, biodiversity, amenity and recreation,” said Tomo Thompson, chief executive of CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire.

“But we’re still worried that their plans aren’t fully off the table, so we’ll be pressing the water companies hard to ensure the most sustainable long-term solutions are now looked at.

“We will continue to voice our concerns to STW, in the hope that they will clearly rule out any future revival of these damaging ideas. We accept that the country needs resilient water supplies, but desecrating the heart of a national park is not an acceptable solution.”

STW have indicated that from 2035 they will save water by ending their contract with Yorkshire Water, who currently get some of their supplies from Derwent Reservoir. But STW also state they will continue to look at ‘backfill’ options to compensate for loss of the export and look at other reservoir options that don’t have such damaging impacts.

Tomo Thompson added: “We’re also concerned about how damaging this process has been, especially for the local community. A lot of time and money has been spent by STW – and authorised by the regulator and thus added to our bills – investigating options that were plainly extremely damaging. Surely this could have been foreseen by a better due diligence process?”

STW have outlined their revised options in a statement of response to the consultation on their Water Resources Management Plan. The statement is available online here: 

Photograph of Slippery Stones
The popular Slippery Stones water pool could have been lost under a new reservoir if STW had taken their options further
Photography of the Cut Gate bridleway dropping into Cranberry Clough in the Upper Derwent Valley
The Cut Gate bridleway dropping into Cranberry Clough in the Upper Derwent Valley