Portsmouth Water says Havant Thicket reservoir an ‘environmentally-led project’ in response to residents’ criticisms - despite company’s ‘regret’ over removing ancient woodland

THE water company behind plans for the Havant Thicket reservoir has responded to criticisms from residents and eco campaigners.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 12:25 pm

After plans were given the green light by local authorities, campaigners and residents said that they were ‘devastated’ by the news, and that the reservoir could be seriously damaging to local wildlife.

However, Portsmouth Water has insisted the reservoir is critical to keep taps flowing for future generations.

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Campaigners say that these areas of ancient woodland would be lost if plans go ahead. Picture: Emily Turner

Bob Taylor, chief executive officer for Portsmouth Water, said: ‘Havant Thicket Reservoir is an environmentally-led project, which is driven by the pressing public need to secure vital water supplies for future generations and protect internationally-rare chalk streams in Hampshire by reducing abstraction from them.

‘We absolutely regret the need to remove ancient woodland as part of the reservoir’s construction and it is not something we considered lightly.

‘However, after considering more than 70 alternative sites, this is the most suitable in terms of its unique location to a sustainable source of water.

‘Other sites were either not large enough or are home to larger areas of woodland. We have adapted our designs to reduce the woodland loss to an absolute minimum.’

Areas of Havant Thicket which could be impacted by the reservoir plans. Picture: Emily Turner

Permission for the 8.7 billion litre storage reservoir spanning 160 hectares was granted by Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council this month.

Mr Taylor added: ‘We have carried out detailed independent customer research in recent years, to gauge the views of local people.

‘This has consistently shown strong levels of support among local communities.

‘In addition to the benefits mentioned above, we have developed an extensive environmental mitigation and compensation package for the reservoir scheme, working with the Environment Agency, Natural England, Hampshire County Council’s Ecology team and the Forestry Commission.

‘This will include planting and improving around 200 hectares of woodland and wood pasture, creating a new wetland on the northern shore to support wetland birds, improving 5.5km of local streams and launching a grant scheme to support environmental projects.

‘Around seven per cent of native woodland in this country is in good ecological condition and our mitigation will bring much woodland into better condition to support more biodiversity.

‘We’ve been monitoring the site and surrounding areas since 2005 and have a detailed awareness of the wildlife on site and how to relocate species and encourage them to move by creating more attractive habitats nearby.

‘Significant measures will be taken to ensure wildlife is not harmed and that animals are not present within the development area during construction works.’

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