West Devon councillors have been assured there is “zero” risk of any contaminated water from the River Tamar going into the drinking water supply as its controversial top up plan for Roadford Reservoir was given the go ahead.

The water company wants to build a new water abstraction and pumping facility in the countryside two miles from Lifton which would connect the River Tamar to its largest reservoir serving 850,000 people from across areas of Devon and North East Cornwall.

It says taking water from the Tamar when the flow is high in the winter to boost Roadford means the reservoir will be full by April 1 each year, to avoid problems as in 2022 when the reservoir was very low.

But there are concerns about poor water quality in the upper Tamar, which would be used to top up the reservoir.

Local objector William Perry told West Devon’s development management committee that the proposed pumping station at Gatherley would be a mile below the sewage treatment works at St Leonards in Launceston, on the Cornish side of the river, which had more than 100 sewage spills this year.

He was worried about the environmental consequences of water removal from the Tamar, reflected in the 19 letters of objection to the council.

Cllr Caroline Mott (Con, Bridestowe) said she was concerned about large areas of farmland and countryside being dug up by South West Water to lay pipes.

Cllr Mandy Ewings (Ind, Tavistock South West) said the river at Gatherley was frequently used by open water swimmers, kayakers and by people fishing and hoped the facility would not impact on their enjoyment of the river.

Lifton Parish Council, however, supported the application although there were some concerns by Lawhitton Parish Council on the other side of the river about visual impact and noise pollution.

Local ward member Cllr Chris Edmunds (Con, Tamarside), who had called for the application to be discussed by the committee because as a building in the open countryside it would not normally be supported, said he was satisfied objections had been addressed. The proposal was supported unanimously.