Plan to double size of Peak District reservoirs would drown out ‘sensitive and special’ countryside

Severn Trent Water has drawn up £300m plans to double the capacity of Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs due to ‘unprecedented demand’ and water loss from leaks. Two plans were proposed: a fourth reservoir on the moors above Howden or higher dams below the existing works, which would be submerged as the waters rose.

Severn Trent says this would result in the loss of trails, recreational facilities and habitats, potentially including old growth forests within a kilometer of current water levels.

Howden Dam could be ‘drowned’. Picture by Severn Trent Water.

He acknowledges that major development and heavy trucks in such a sensitive landscape are likely to meet ‘notable opposition’ – but could undo it using powers under the ‘nationally significant infrastructure planning’ system . The company is aiming for authorization by 2027, construction from 2030 and completion by 2033.

Tomo Thompson, boss of campaign charity CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire, said they were “very concerned” about the proposals and that water companies should first tackle the “incredible amount “of leaks.

He added: “This is an extremely sensitive area in terms of landscape and environment and the implementation of this plan under the auspices of an infrastructure plan of national importance would be likely to have widespread impacts on the particular qualities and biodiversity of the region, on a wider national level. Park, and on ramifications for Nationally Protected Landscapes.

“We are disappointed that there has been little reference to a thorough examination of the feasibility of alternatives. We believe that the first basis for ensuring an adequate and sustainable water supply is to tackle the incredible amount of waste and leakage, and to refocus on better management and use of existing supplies. We remain engaged with STW and owe another meeting with them this month.

Ladybower Reservoir, October 2022. Photo by Chris Pickering

CPRE works with local residents and communities, the Peak District National Park Authority, parish councils and the Campaign for National Parks, he added.

The combined full capacity of Ladybower, Derwent and Howden is 464 billion litres. Severn Trent Water loses 151.3 billion liters a year, while Yorkshire Water loses 103.3 billion.

A Severn Trent spokesperson said: “With an additional 12 million people expected to live in the UK by 2050, we are working on ways to manage demand on our long-term water supply network. We are already implementing plans to reduce demand, address pipe breaks and develop new water sources, including the possible expansion of water storage capacity in the Upper River Valley. Derwent. We are still at a very early stage in this process and will continue to work with all parties involved to shape these plans. »

A company report states: “We believe the Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir Expansion Strategic Resource Option represents a robust, reliable and resilient source to help ensure the resilience to extreme drought of 1 all 500 years”.

Remains of Derwent Hall at Ladybower Reservoir, October 2022. Photo by Paul Hopwood.
Tomo Thompson, boss of campaign charity CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire, said they were very concerned about the plans and that water companies should first tackle the ‘incredible amount’ of leaks .
Ladybower Dam and Ashopton Viaduct

Carol N. Valencia