A proposed reservoir in southern Lincolnshire has come as devastating news for farmers who would lose their homes and livelihoods.
Anglian Water hopes to build the multi-billion-pound reservoir close to Scredington, near Sleaford.
It would require five square kilometres to be flooded, and would serve half a million homes in the region.
Details were announced this week as property owners whose land would be underwater received compulsory purchase orders.
A petition against the plans has already gathered 1,400 signatures in a matter of days.
The owner of one farm claims many will be forced out of the industry and it will have a terrible mental health impact.
Anglian Water says the plans are vital for ensuring that taps keep running during droughts, and will also offer new leisure facilities.
Hannah Thorogood has owned and run the Inkpot, a 100 acre organic farm, with her family since 2010.
“The letter about the reservoir was a bolt out of the blue. It was absolutely devastating, like a bomb had gone off in our lives,” she said.
“We’re losing our homes and our livelihoods at the same time – everything we’ve worked towards for years.
“Every house which is affected has a heartbreaking story. A lot of people are saying they won’t be able to farm again. It’s been their grandparent’s land that they hoped to pass down to their own grandchildren.
“We will have to live with the uncertainty for years. We’ve been told a planning decision won’t be made until 2025, and if it’s approved we won’t get compensation until 2028/29.
“This means we won’t be able to move on and start new lives for years. We will be farming a graveyard, which will have a terrible toll on mental health.
“Farms take so much investment in time and money. It can take 10 years to get one up and running, and local farms have invested £1million. You can’t just start again somewhere new.
“We recognise that the area needs water but Anglian Water say the reservoir will be like Rutland Water – we don’t believe that at all. It’s not an attractive area and has a very cold wind in the winter.”
Anglian Water says the scheme will affect 12 households and a number of landowners, although Hannah believes the number is higher.
Nicola Parkin fears that her equestrian business will be destroyed if she’s forced to relocate.
“This is my dream I’ve poured my heart and soul into – to say I’m devastated doesn’t even scratch the surface,” the mum-of-four said.
“I will lose most of my clients. How can I be compensated for that? It’s my house, my job, everything I’ve worked for.
“I was hoping to invest in my business next year, but all that will be on hold for four years.
“It’s only been a week since I found out, and I’m already at the end of my tether. I don’t know how I will take years of this.”
A formal public consultation will begin in October.
Local councils will be consulted on the plans, with a final decision being made by the government due to the scale.
A spokesperson for Anglian Water said: “As the recent drought has shown, it is critical that we put in place plans to ensure that we have sufficient water to meet the needs of our growing population, particularly as we face into the consequences of climate change.
“Following a thorough and multi-stage site selection assessment process assessing a wide range of criteria, we have now identified the best performing location for a proposed new reservoir in Lincolnshire.
“We think it’s right those who are potentially most affected find out about these proposals first and have the opportunity to ask us any questions about what this might mean for them. As such we are in contact with those who own property and live within the proposed area and who will be potentially affected by our proposals.
“We know there is wide interest in the new reservoir. The project will create a new reservoir to support water supply to customers in the fast-growing Anglian region. Our proposals go beyond just building a new reservoir, we will create new habitats for wildlife and places for people to explore, and exciting new leisure facilities for people to enjoy.”