By Harry Mottram: As a regular visitor to Cheddar Reservoir and as someone who has charted its history I am often asked if Cheddar Reservoir 2 is still going to happen as there’s been no news. Has the General Election caused owners Exeter-based The Pennon Group who own South West Water who in turn own Cheddar Reservoir forced them to pause plans to start work on the new reservoir? The answer is no but inevitably there is something of a hiatus for some major infrastructure projects due to the election although that’s mainly for procedural reasons.

For instance, the Lower Thames Crossing and Immingham Eastern Ro-Ro Terminal have been pushed back following prime minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a general election for 4 July and the National Highways’ £9bn scheme to build new bored road tunnels beneath the River Thames between Kent and Essex must await a decision until after the vote. But as mentioned these won’t be delayed for long. Governments come and go but projects like this are largely unpolitical – unlike HS2 which used much tax payers cash.

Cheddar Reservoir 2 has been given the green light by Government in the sense that is part of the official Government’s national Plan For Water published in April 2023. The plan brought together all the major water companies to create a national strategy which included provisions to protect the environment, provide for a growing population, and ensuring that supplies could be guaranteed in the case of a drought – resiliance of supply is their favourite phrase. South West Water’s CEO Susan Davey said in March this year that Cheddar Reservoir was the firm’s first major infrastructure project and was in effect at the top of their agenda. More detailed plans are to be published this summer and whoever wins the election the project will be going ahead.

Back in 2018 we thought the Cheddar Reservoir 2 project was dead. Ofwat had pulled the plug on the plans to dig a huge new reservoir south of the current one on cost grounds. The plan had been to give the water customers the bill – which was ruled out by the regulator. Instead a pipeline was dug linking the Res with Barrow Tanks near Bristol – with the pipes running under the Strawberry Line and through Shute Shelve Tunnel. New owners South West Water says it hopes to have the new reservoir in operation by 2033 – some 95 years after the first one was opened just before WW2.

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents.

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc