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Cheddar reservoir preparation work to begin next week

By Cheddar Valley Gazette  |  Posted: October 04, 2012

The lava lamp-like artist’s impression of how a second reservoir could look. This is not a final design

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Have the floodgates opened for Cheddar’s second reservoir?

Very little has been said of the major watering hole in the past six months but a flurry of activity begins next week.

From Monday land south of the reservoir will be drilled, scoured, dug and ecologically surveyed for eight weeks, with boreholes to be drilled from October 15.

The water firm is contacting land owners to gain permission for all these things and to explain their plans.

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Bristol Water says it needs the data so it can submit a planning application in December, 2013. A public consultation will start early next year.

The timing of reservoir plans resurfacing comes as Cheddar deals with a planning application from Sainsbury’s, an expected plan from Tesco, ongoing talks about cable cars in Cheddar Gorge and repairs to the historic market cross.

The proposal of a second reservoir has been in circulation for five years, with claims that it is the only way to deal with the growing population and the previous choice to not expand the current 1930s-built reservoir.

Bristol Water looked at 53 possible sites before narrowing it down to five: Axbridge, Banwell, Cheddar, Clewer and Wookey. Cheddar was the favourite due to “economic, environmental and geological grounds”.

The potential site for the reservoir is said to be around 650ft south from the existing, with the earliest construction could start being 2016, but probably later.

No price tag has been revealed but the reservoir would be a multi-million pound affair.

So far water firm watchdog Ofwat has allowed Bristol Water to use money from its 2015 price limits to pay for preparatory work on a new reservoir. That covers an outline design, investigating a suitable site and creating a planning application.

Bristol Water says: “Funding for further works after 2015 will be the subject of negotiation over price limits for the next period.

“By and large, the costs of the new reservoir will be balanced by the additional water bills on new properties. Overall, we do not expect the reservoir to lead to higher bills for existing customers.”

The decision to create a second reservoir has been criticised in the past by those who fear it could devalue house prices, further drain Cheddar Gorge and damage wildlife and the environment.

Bristol Water has addressed these issues with a FAQ web page and said a second reservoir is needed to cope with future population demand.

The firm also said there is enough surplus water from Cheddar Gorge, particularly the winter flows, to help fill a second reservoir.

What do you think about a second Cheddar Reservoir? Is this the right place? Or even the right time to be thinking about building one?

Write to editor@midsomnews.co.uk or The Editor, Cheddar Valley Gazette, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH.

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