Plans to create a new reservoir near the village of Cheddar in Somerset were approved by Sedgemoor District Council earlier this month.
The project aims to provide a new source of water in Somerset alomg with long-term recreational and conservation benefits to the local area.
Arup was the planning consultancy involved in the scheme. Wayne Dyer is associate director at the firm.
Q: Can you describe Arup’s involvement with the scheme?
A: We’ve been designing the reservoir and the wider landscape and mitigation areas in which it fits. We’ve [also] been working with Bristol Water doing a wider site selection process.
Q: Why did you decide on the current location?
A: We ended up going with the location… next to the [existing] reservoir because of a number of reasons, including the proximity of existing infrastructure to connect into by way of pipes, and because the main pumping station for the existing reservoir is there. I think one of the main contributing factors to getting consent … is the fact that we chose a location next to an existing reservoir. The local community already use it a lot, and were very comfortable with the concept. The relationship they have as a community with Bristol Water also wasn’t alien to them.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of the scheme?
A: [There was a] huge amount of ecological survey work, and ecological impact work done as part of the environmental assessment. This area is a specially protected area for bat foraging. They come out the Cheddar caves at night and they forage over the land on which we were going to put the reservoir. We did a Habitats Regulations Appraisal Appropriate Assessment and extensive work with Natural England and the county ecologist to come up with solutions to manage the loss of that habitat. A lot of what we planned to do around the [edge] of the reservoir is re-creating that habitat to minimise impact.
Q: Why did you become a planner?
A: I’ve been a planner for 20 years. I come from a construction background. But my perception of planning was very different to what it actually is. I thought it was all about listed buildings. But over the years my areas of specialism really are plan making, plan policy, and evidence-based work to support plan making, but also major infrastructure projects. Every project is different, and it’s a challenge. I’ve got huge amounts of variety, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.