Agenda item

FDC Formal Response to Fens Reservoir Consultation

To inform and seek agreement from Council on the FDC formal consultation response to the proposed Fens Reservoir to be located north of Chatteris.


Members considered the Council’s formal consultation response to the proposed Fens Reservoir to be located north of Chatteris.


Members made comments as follows:

·       Councillor Count expressed the view that this is a great project and it really needs to be embraced, with the consultation response being accurate in his opinion and he also agrees with the letter and the way the Council is embracing this.  However, the one thing that concerns him is the word ‘potential’, this is a fantastic project with a lot of potential and Anglian Water in their documentation talk about potential for water sports, potential for a media space, potential for biodiversity and cycleways and it would be great to obtain all this but he is worried about whether the main interest is in delivering a reservoir and it is up to somebody else to supply the potential.  Councillor Count feel this is a fantastic opportunity but it is up to councillors as local members to keep an eye on the potential and find a way that it gets delivered and something that needs to be explained to Anglian Water as the journey is moved on together is that they might be thinking of this as something for somebody else but the Council feels it is much part of an entire package and one goes hand in hand with the other.

·       Councillor Tierney endorsed the comments of Councillor Count and stated that everyone has to realise this is an epic project coming to Fenland, being the largest public works project since the draining of the Fens and the benefits, not just for the security of the water, with all of the leisure facilities will be amazing and everyone should be doing everything it can to ensure that what the area ends up with is just as good as was promised at the start.

·       Councillor Cornwell stated that the thing that attracts him in particular is the fact for many years people have said why is so much water wasted each year by diverting it out to sea and this proposal satisfies this as the water that is going in the reservoir will be water that is handled by the area’s superb drainage system so it is being reused.  He thinks it is an incredible project and seems to the biggest one since the drainage of the Fens, agreeing with the previous speakers about making sure the whole package is delivered together and residents have a say on what is provided. Councillor Cornwell stated that he has noticed from some of the other installations that Anglia Water has is that car parking is a headache at some of them because people have to travel to them and if the spin offs such as cycleways can be provided it would be fantastic but it must be part of the whole package and it is inherent on members to make sure that complete package goes ahead.

·       Councillor Mrs French totally agrees with all the previous speakers, she attended a flood meeting this morning, with Anglian Water and Middle Level being in attendance, and she asked the question about the hundreds of thousands of money that is used for electricity to pump the Fens up to St Germans and would they be looking to work together so that water will be pumped into the reservoir and the answer was yes they are working together so hopefully this will save Middle Level some money, with as part of the discussions today, Middle Level stating that they are spending £24 million investing in Fenland, which is superb.

·       Councillor Boden referred to the difference in the debate in Fenland compared to the debate going on about the other so called Fens reservoir which is being proposed by Anglian Water.  He stated that this debate about where there should be a new reservoir has been going on for 2 years now in detail by Anglian Water, starting with 70 potential sites cut down to 36 eventually coming down to 4-5 and finally to the 2 that are now being proposed, with Fenland fighting very hard to get one of the reservoirs due to the potential value it could have.  Councillor Boden made the point that the other reservoir being proposed in Lincolnshire has a lot of local opposition, with thousands of residents signing petitions against it, and the differences between what is happening in Lincolnshire and here in Fenland is stark and there is superb potential here and it will be incumbent on all members  and their successors to ensure that the potential is realised.  He stated that the area does not have to wait until the reservoir becomes operational before receiving value from it as hundreds of direct jobs and many hundreds of indirect jobs will be secured by this proposal for Fenland’s reservoir and many of those jobs will be very skilled, in short supply at the moment, and will involve individuals getting highly transferrable skills for the future and it gives a great opportunity to get local jobs for local people to skill people up, reskill them if necessary, skills them from school if necessary in order to ensure those jobs do come as they should to local people, which involves working with the CPCA which has a large training budget and discussions have already started with the CPCA on what is going to be required to ensure those jobs come to local people and there are individuals trained up to do jobs they will be able to do for the rest of their lives.  Councillor Boden expressed the view that there is also the indirect effect that this is going to have on the supply chain and in a whole host of different ways this is going to have a significant positive financial effect on Fenland starting in the fairly near future.  He referred to the comments of Councillor Tierney in that this is the largest infrastructure programme that there has been in Fenland since the 17th Century when the Fens were drained and to put it in context the cost of what is being proposed for Fenland’s reservoir is just about the same as the cost of the A14 extension which has recently been built from the A1/M to Cambridge, which shows it is a massive programme and investment into the area and can have massive spin offs not merely in the long-term but also in the shorter term where it can make a real difference to the lives of the area’s children, residents and local communities.  He feels that the approach that the Council has got is the appropriate one to be followed and he endorses it.   


Proposed by Councillor Boden, seconded by Councillor Mrs French and AGREED that:

·       the Council’s formal response to the Fens Reservoir consultation and the draft letter from the Leader of the Council, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth be approved; and

·       authority be delegated to the Corporate Director in consultation with the Leader of the Council, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth where any changes might be required.

Supporting documents: