Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Friday, 25 December 2009

Inquiry to examine South East water supplies

Outdoor tap
The public inquiry will look at the firm's future water supplies

A public inquiry looking at South East Water's future plans - including the building of two winter storage reservoirs - will take place in May.

The water firm had expected the inquiry, which will examine more than 100 water supply options, to be in 2009 or early in 2010.

The new date from the government has led to a public consultation exercise being extended until 19 January.

Campaigners have opposed the reservoirs planned in Kent and East Sussex.

A South East Water spokeswoman emphasised the inquiry was into water resources.

She said: "The public inquiry should not be confused as being the same as a planning inquiry into specific schemes, such as reservoirs."

'Sustainable plan'

South East Water said its plans were the least costly and most sustainable solution for its 2.1 million customers across parts of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, up to 2020.

But after 2020, the firm needed to look at other options such as effluent re-use, desalination, inter-company water transfer pipelines, and the two winter storage reservoirs near Canterbury and Ringmer.

Government environment department Defra asked water firms across England to provide management plans for the first time in 2007.

In August, Defra allowed 10 companies to finalise and publish their plans, asked eight for further information, and said that three - including South East Water's strategy - needed further consideration in public.



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