Havant Thicket reservoir: Anger over Southern Water 'not making wastewater recycling plan clear'

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Southern Water ‘did not make clear’ its wish to pump recycled wastewater into the Havant Thicket Reservoir until after it gained planning permission, a council leader has said.

In a letter sent to Southern Water on August 17, Councillor Alex Rennie, leader of Havant Borough Council said: ‘The council has serious concerns about why Southern Water did not make clear its wish to use water recycling during the planning process.’

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When asked when the council was first made aware of the plans he added: ‘During spring 2021, Southern Water ran a consultation on its future water management, it made clear that it favoured desalination.

‘Whilst water recycling was one of many stated high-level alternative options, only after the reservoir received planning approval did water recycling become the preferred solution.

‘In any case, as a planning authority, we can only assess the proposal which is submitted by a developer at the time.

‘The planning application was from Portsmouth Water and was for a winter storage reservoir supplied by the Bedhampton Springs. This was the planning approval which the Council gave.’

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Southern Water recently completed a six-week consultation on the plans for the recycling plant near the Budds Farm Wastewater Treatment Works.

A spokesperson from Southern Water said they and Portsmouth Water have been ‘open’ about the ongoing water recycling plans.

‘This included during the separate planning application process for the construction of the Havant Thicket Reservoir, where questions about these other potential options were put forward by the two planning committees and other members of the public.

‘It was agreed with Havant planners that the water recycling plans were not included in the Portsmouth Water application for the reservoir as they were at too early a stage and, at the time of that application, desalination was the selected option for making up the water shortfall in Hampshire.

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‘More than 9,000 people visited the consultation web pages and we have received more than 570 consultation responses.

‘Further engagement is planned between now and the next public consultation, which will be held in 2023.’