The BMC strongly opposes proposals to extend the Ladybower network of reservoirs by flooding large areas of the Upper Derwent Valley.
In spring 2022, Severn Trent Water (STW) began consulting locally on their proposals to increase water storage in the Ladybower complex of reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley (UDV). These proposals are part of a national drive to find ways of meeting projected increases in demand for water over the next thirty years.
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.
Three main options are currently under consideration:
Raise the dam levels of one or more of the three existing reservoirs
Build new, higher dams in front of the existing reservoirs
Create a new fourth reservoir. The most likely site for this being upstream of Howden Reservoir.
The BMC are particularly concerned with the third proposal as this will be hugely detrimental to the landscape and areas such as Slippery Stones will completely disappear.
The BMC became alerted to the proposals late in 2022 and held a meeting with Severn Trent Water. The findings from this were raised at the BMC Peak Area meeting, and it was the view of the meeting that any new or expanded reservoir in the UDV was unacceptable.
We have subsequently submitted a formal response to STW communicating our general opposition to these major developments, stating:
‘As we find the efforts to increase efficiency of water use and reducing demand and leakages unambitious, we do not accept the need for more water resources being obtained from the Upper Derwent Catchment. We therefore object to the proposal for increasing water resources from the Upper Derwent Valley and the irreparable damage this would do to the national park.’
STW in partnership with Yorkshire Water are currently working on their preferred options for the 2nd (of five) stage proposals to be submitted to DEFRA in July this year. These will be subject to comment by stakeholders and local consultation prior to further decision making.
If and when regulatory approval is given, STW will then seek planning permission, almost certainly by a ‘development consent order’ application to the Secretary of State (SoS) citing the works as nationally significant infrastructure. This planning route would bypass local decision making, with the Planning Inspectorate instead making a recommendation to SoS. Assuming approval is granted it is projected that construction would commence around 2030.
Public awareness is currently low considering the scale of the impact locally and the wider implications for other National Parks. This is in part due to a lack of any real detail so far provided by STW. The lack of key information is such that the Peak Park Authority has been prompted to issue a holding statement of opposition to the proposals.
Despite the vagueness of STW’s plans key organisations are starting to come out in opposition to the proposals. These voices will only grow louder as the true extent of what is being planned becomes apparent. It’s clear that the BMC will not stand alone in our opposition – more information and how BMC members can object to these proposals will be forthcoming.
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