Northumbrian Water Limited (NWL) sought confirmation of a compulsory purchase order (the "Order") under S155 of the Water Industries Act 1991 and the Acquisition of Land Act 1981. NWL's proposal was to increase the capacity of Abberton Reservoir to meet long term demand for water and improve future resource provision (the failure to provide sufficient supply to meet demand would otherwise have serious consequences, not only in terms of levels of service for existing communities, but also in terms of future economic growth as planned for the East of England). The purpose of the Abberton Reservoir Enhancement Scheme (the "ARES") is twofold - to enlarge the capacity of Abberton Reservoir, in order to secure additional water resources and to enhance the reservoir's ecological value in accordance with its statutory duties. The ARES includes variations in licences held by the Environment Agency to permit increased abstraction from the River Ely/Ouse near Denver in Norfolk and enhanced transfer of water from Denver to Abberton by improvements to the Ely Ouse to Essex Transfer Scheme.
Following an inquiry the Secretary of State agreed with his Inspector's conclusions and confirmed the Order.