NATURE lovers have joined forces to form a new environmental group with the hopes of helping to determine the future of one borough.
The newly-formed Havant Borough Environment Group has launched an online survey to gauge what residents and other groups think about wildlife and open space in Havant.
They are also being asked what they think Havant Borough Council should include in its Local Plan, due to be finalised next year, which will set out the future of the area until 2036.
Spokesman for the group, Ray Cobbett, also from the Friends of the Earth Havant, said: ‘We all have a part to play, especially local government responsible for planning our future environment.
‘New housing pressures and our unique geography have raised real concerns about the impact on the future ecology of Havant’s 130 nature reserves and protected sites throughout the borough.’
The environmentalists hoped they would be able to use the results to influence the council’s new Biodiversity Action Plan, but have now been told due to time constraints this will not be possible.
The council’s 2011 Biodiversity Action Plan is out of date and is currently being reviewed, the new one will be published alongside the next stage of the Local Plan.
The council said organisations have already been engaged with whose work will be brought together at a local level.
It said it has never committed to undertaking public engagement on the Biodiversity Action Plan, stating: ‘An offer was received from Friends of the Earth which we have always said we would consider. However, time constraints in preparing the Local Plan and the strategy mean this isn’t possible.’
Mr Cobbett said the results of the survey will still be useful, because they will be submitted to the council, councillors, and leader Cllr Michael Wilson.
He said there will also be stages in the progress of the Local Plan where groups will have the chance to speak up.
He added: ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are of particular concern, like around Langstone Harbour. There are also horse fields on the south side of Havant Road, as you go into Emsworth, which we are worried about.
‘We know sites will be developed but our goal is to make sure they are at least protected in the best way possible, so they’re not destroyed completely.’
Councillor Leah Turner, cabinet lead for communities, development and housing, added: ‘The council is absolutely committed to improving economic growth through the regeneration of the borough and key development projects.
‘This must be done in a way which respects and enhances the natural environment.
‘A full review of the Biodiversity Action Plan has been an imperative part of the preparation of the new Local Plan, ensuring that its findings are woven into the Havant Borough Local Plan 2036.’
Complete the survey by the end of the month by clicking here.