Attenborough Officially Opens Abberton Scheme

Friday 5th June 2015

David AttenboroughDavid Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough has officially marked the completion of the £150 million Abberton Scheme by unveiling a special engraved stone.

Essex Wildlife Trust Abberton ReservoirThe naturalist and broadcaster was visiting the enlarged Abberton Reservoir, which was recently filled to its new storage capacity of 41 billion litres of water. 

Sir David said: "I can remember a time when nature conservation and development were seen to be in opposition - you either developed or conserved - and that led to confrontation. here at Abberton Reservoir this is fundamentally, extraordinarily and wonderfully different."

"This development has been constructed hand-in-hand to create a wonderment for people and wildlife who live and visit here and a godsend for people who depend on it for water," he said.

David Attenborough with EWT's CEO John Hall"It is a blessing, a wonder and a great admiration to see what has been achieved by this partnership being celebrated," added Sir David.

Abberton Reservoir is important to wildlife and wildfowl and has some of the highest environmental protection designations including, Ramsar site and SSSI status as well as being a Special Protection Area.

The site is internationally important for dabbling ducks, such as Shoveler and Teal. The enhancement project has increased the amount of shallow water habitat crucial for these birds and also the waders that frequent the reservoir.

Essex & Suffolk Water has enlarged Abberton Reservoir by 58 per cent and the additional water will bolster supplies to the Chelmsford, Basildon, Brentwood, Southend and Thurrock areas and also to the London boroughs of Barking, Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

David Attenborough with EWT's CEO John HallThe project began construction in 2010 and the major works were completed last year.

Heidi Mottram OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Essex & Suffolk Water said: "we are immensely proud of our partnership and that together has made this time very, very special.

"Never before has a partnership scheme like this not only created a bigger reservoir with 60 per cent more water available securing supplies for years to come and also enhanced a site of international importance which is even better for wildlife now than it was before," she said.

Sir David Attenborough is a President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts and was able to visit the new Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre run by the Essex Wildlife Trust. 

David Attenborough with EWT's Jo WrayStephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The new Abberton Reservoir is an amazing place. Essex & Suffolk Water should be congratulated for achieving a massively increased water storage facility whilst creating a vastly improved habitat for wildlife. 

“The company has embraced the European value of the site for birds and worked closely with Essex Wildlife Trust. The result is wonderful – well supported by local people, no legal costs at public inquiry and 11 miles of new waterside habitat that had previously been concrete. And, critically, a greatly increased volume of water stored ready for use by people in Essex and parts of London. We must all learn from this.”

Natural England Chairman, Andrew Sells, said: “This huge engineering project is a tribute to sustainable development. Not only does it provide an enormous increase in water capacity, it has created more than 200 hectares of habitat for important wildlife.

“The reservoir enhancement represents probably the single largest development on a Special Protection Area in history. At the heart of it has been a great working relationship involving Essex and Suffolk Water’s team, conservation organisations including Natural England, and the local community.

‪“The benefits for the environment and the community mean that this project actually goes beyond sustainability – we now have a bigger reservoir and a better SPA,” said Mr Sells.
John Devall, Water Director for Essex & Suffolk Water said: “The reservoir is living proof that we can plan and complete a major water supply project and actually protect and enhance the natural environment at the same time

David Attenborough with EWT's CEO John Hall“We’re increasing biodiversity and Sir David Attenborough is the perfect person to be able to invite and showcase this approach,” John Devall said.

John Hall, Chief Executive Officer of Essex Wildlife Trust said: “Essex & Suffolk Water has been working closely in partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust and many others. The company has made sure that the habitats that supported wildlife were clearly understood before work commenced and have looked after the interests of that superb wildlife during construction, making sure the final habitats have increased in both size and quality. 

“Here, major construction has improved both water security for people and habitats for wildlife of international importance,” said John Hall.