Councils announce 'rewilding' ambition for strategic gap between Fareham and Gosport

THE green belt between Fareham and Gosport could be preserved for 100 years with orchards and woodland as politicians look to ‘rewild’ the area – and benefit from a nitrate trading system.

By Richard Lemmer
Monday, 26th October 2020, 4:48 pm

It comes as the government is considering a loan to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to create rewilding projects across the Solent region, with the aim of curtailing wastewater nitrate pollution.

These projects would contribute to a £3.9m online auction to sell nitrate credits, which could be bought by developers looking to offset pollution from their developments.

Now the borough councils for Fareham and Gosport are looking to replicate a £950,000 rewilding scheme on a farm on the Isle of Wight – but ‘on a much bigger scale’, according to Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward.

Solent mudflats. Picture: Mark Cox

He said: ‘Land would be purchased and then taken out of agricultural use and turned into orchards and woodland, maybe cattle – with low-nitrate feed - could be put on it – there’s lots of options.

‘The idea would be to purchase the land, but the nitrates credits could be sold to make the money back, so we could be looking for loan funding rather than grants.’

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Cllr Woodward and Cllr Stephen Philpott, who is in charge of economic development at Gosport Borough Council, have sent a joint letter to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to put forward the proposal.

Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward.

The joint proposal to the wildlife charity could act as a ‘great example of local councils working together, according to Cllr Philpott.

He said: ‘We will also work with other partners, such as the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and Natural England, to seek maximum benefit from other similar projects for our communities.’

Other councils have already begun to embrace the rewilding strategy, with Havant Borough Council set to rewild Warblington Farm over the next few years with hay crops, new hedgerows, wildflowers and habitats for birds.

The Fareham and Gosport rewilding project could extend across the entire strategic gap between the two towns and last for more than 100 years, according to Cllr Woodward.

Earlier this year, more than 17,000 people signed three petitions calling for Fareham Borough Council to protect the greenbelt between the two towns, as house-builders continued to pursue developments in the area.

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