Plans for new reservoir the size of 8 Olympic swimming pools near Luton approved
A new reservoir in the greenbelt north of Caddington will provide water security to more than 36,000 homes in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, a meeting heard.
Applicant Affinity Water Limited submitted full plans to Central Bedfordshire Council for a water storage facility with other works at Chaul End Reservoir in Chaul End Road.
It wants to build a 20.75 megalitre reservoir next to its 21.1 megalitre reservoir to double the water storage capacity locally, according to a report to the local authority’s development management committee.
Senior planning officer Fenella Hackney explained: “The site is an agricultural field north of the village, next to the current reservoir operated by the applicant.
“Officers say very special circumstances exist, which would clearly outweigh the harm to the greenbelt. This includes the significant public benefits associated with the delivery of major water services infrastructure.
“This land is accessed from Chaul End Road by a track, which is also a public bridleway. The reservoir appears as a large mound covered with grass, which is how the proposed development has been designed, sitting six to eight metres above ground level.
“It will deliver an essential piece of infrastructure ensuring water supply and enabling the company to meet the demands of an increased population and climate change, as well as reducing groundwater abstraction from sensitive chalk stream eco-systems.
“If approved, the project is subject to a referral to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.”
Planning director at Dalcour Maclaren Rebecca Lock, representing the applicant, said: “The proposal is to install a covered reservoir at Chaul End, which can store 20.75 megalitres of water of similar capacity to eight Olympic-size swimming pools.
“This is a critical infrastructure project, which will improve water supply interconnectivity within the central regions and meet the firm’s obligations.
“It enables the transfer of 17 megalitres per day of surplus water from Surrey to areas of water deficit across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, while providing water security to 36,600 premises there, and protecting and maximising vital groundwater resources impacted by drought.
“This would work by increased use of the shared supply with Anglian Water at Grafham. Water from there will be transferred and treated at the new treatment works at Sundon.
“It will be cascaded east to Preston reservoir at Hitchin and south to Chaul End reservoir before being distributed to the supply network across Beds and Herts.
“The water storage level at Chaul End needs to be doubled to reduce the reliance on the local chalk stream eco-system through groundwater extraction. It would leave the environment in a sustainable and a measurably improved state.”
Independent Potton councillor Tracey Wye asked whether local chalk streams would be restored and was assured such a programme exists for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
Conservative Caddington councillor Kevin Collins told the committee the parish council raised no objection, adding he was aware of two representations from residents.
“One was around highways, but construction traffic is temporary not permanent,” he said. “The other misidentified the site, referring clearly to somewhere else in the village.”
Councillors approved the development, with ten votes in favour and one abstention.