Sir David Attenborough to mark opening of £150million project at Abberton Reservoir near Colchester

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough - Credit: David Bebber

Naturalist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough is to officially open a north Essex reservoir which has had 15 billion litres of water added to it.

Essex Wildlife Trust's visitor and nature reserve at Abberton Reservoir,near Colchester.

Essex Wildlife Trust's visitor and nature reserve at Abberton Reservoir,near Colchester. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

A special event is scheduled to take place on Wednesday June 3 at Abberton Reservoir near Colchester, and will include a speech by Sir David on his thoughts following a tour of the site.

Essex & Suffolk Water, part of Northumbrian Water Group, recently announced that an extra 15 billion litres of water had filled the reservoir to its new full capacity of 41 billion litres.

Heidi Mottram, chief executive officer of Essex & Suffolk Water said: “We’re really pleased to be welcoming such a distinguished guest as Sir David Attenborough to help us celebrate the Abberton Reservoir expansion scheme.

“We’ll also be celebrating with the local community who will benefit from this expansion along with the wider Essex community,” she said.

The official opening event will take place at the Visitor Centre run in partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust and will be open to ticket-holders only.

“We all know Essex is one of the driest parts of the country, so to be able to secure water supplies for many, many years to come with this fantastic project is a real celebration and something we’re all looking forward to,” Ms Mottram added.

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The £150 million project began construction in 2010 and the major works were completed last year.

The reservoir has been enlarged by 58% 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.

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.

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.

“We’re increasing biodiversity and Sir David Attenborough is the perfect person to be able to invite and showcase this approach.”

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.”

Abberton programme manager, Jim Jenkins said: “It is good that the project has got this recognition not only as a water resources project, but also as an environmental enhancement.

“It is of international importance and now we’re hoping it will be of prime importance to birds and wildlife in the UK and on a global scale.”

The event on June 3 is a ticket-only event. To apply for a free place visit www.eswater.co.uk/your-home/your-services/the-abberton-scheme

Registration for tickets will close at 4pm on May 8

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