South Yorkshire Climate Alliance

Image credit: BMC Peak Area

Save the Upper Derwent Valley from ecological destruction

Campaigners have launched a petition to save a Peak District valley from ‘ecological destruction’ and the loss of the Dambusters dams.

Severn Trent Water are proposing to expand their reservoirs in the Peak District National Park. The proposal, known as the Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir Expansion scheme (UDVRE), would double the size of Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs, due to ‘unprecedented demand’ and water lost to leaks. Two plans have been put forward: a fourth reservoir on the moors above Howden or new, higher dams downstream of the current, iconic dam structures. The latter would involve raising the reservoir walls by up to 20 metres at one or all three sites.

In the report, Severn Trent acknowledge that all of the options would mean the loss of footpaths, recreational facilities and habitats, potentially including ancient woodland, within 1 km of current water levels, and create congestion from heavy lorries. However, it could override any local objections using powers under the ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning’ system.

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

Many local groups have spoken out against the plans, and a petition has been launched

The British Mountaineering Council, Peak Area Group, have published this statement on their Facebook page:

Severn Trent’s (ST) recently published Water Resources Management Plan proposes, among other options, ‘Upper Derwent Valley Reservoir Expansion’ to ‘offer increased water storage to ST and Yorkshire Water (YW)’.

Our most recent Peak Area BMC meeting discussed this possibility with very great concern being expressed by those present at any possibility of a new or expanded reservoir being created in such a special place. As a result BMC Access and Conservation Officers have written to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as part of the consultation process on the ST plan to make clear our concerns. You can read the whole letter sent in the pictures associated with this post.

Here is a small excerpt from the letter:

‘As we find the efforts to increase efficiency of water use and reducing demand and leakages [in this report] 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.’

In a statement reported in the Sheffield Star, Tomo Thompson, from CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire, said they were ‘very concerned’ by the proposals and water companies should tackle the ‘incredible amount’ of leaks first:

“This is a hugely sensitive area in landscape and environmental terms and steamrolling this plan through under the auspices of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Plan would be likely to have widespread impacts on the special qualities and biodiversity of the area, on the wider National Park, and on the ramifications for protected landscapes nationally.

“We are disappointed that there has been little reference given to a thorough examination of the feasibility of alternatives. We believe that the first base in securing adequate and sustainable water supplies is tackling the incredible amount of waste and leakage, and a renewed national focus on the better management and use of existing supplies.”

Derwent and Hope Woodlands Parish Council have published a statement on their website urging the public to sign the petition. The website also contains detailed information about the scheme, including the geology and heritage, the supposed benefits and alternative options. It is well worth a read – click here to go to their website.

You can support these local campaigners by signing the petition – just click on the button below.