Portsmouth Water takes feedback on board for Reservoir Plans

Portsmouth Water has published the views it heard during its recent public consultation, on plans for a new reservoir in Hampshire and outlined how it’s taking them on board.

Havant Thicket Reservoir, near Havant, would secure future water supplies for the South East, protect world-famous local chalk streams and provide a new green leisure hub, benefitting local people and wildlife.

Following a public consultation on its reservoir proposals during May and June, Portsmouth Water has now published a ‘You said, we did’ report, setting out a summary of the feedback it received and how those opinions have shaped its plans. It is due to submit planning applications for the reservoir in the coming weeks.

Bob Taylor, Portsmouth Water’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our report shows the consultation on Havant Thicket Reservoir was a great success, with hundreds of people having their say online, through social media, by post and phone, and showing strong support for this important project.”

“We have looked in detail at what people told us and have made a number of changes to our plans as a result.”

“For example, we are now proposing to create access roads from the north and the south, which will help minimise the overall impact of traffic and almost halve the amount of ancient woodland we would need to remove along the northern route.”

“We expect to use the northern route for most of the reservoir construction vehicles and people travelling from further afield to the site, with the southern route mainly used by local communities. We have designed it so both roads end in the site’s car park and the northern route is single track, to avoid them being used as a ‘rat run’ – something people told us they were particularly concerned about.”

Portsmouth Water’s response also includes widening the paths for pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders around the reservoir site and making sure the new visitor centre is designed to help it blend in with the surrounding area.

Importantly, the company plans to include additional measures to help prevent potential anti-social behaviour at the reservoir – such as special access gates to stop unlicensed motorcycles.

Mr Taylor continued: “During the consultation, we heard concerns about the loss of ancient woodland due to the reservoir being constructed. In our report, we have clearly set out the extensive efforts we are planning, that will deliver an overall benefit for the environment. This includes looking at 70 sites before selecting the one that offers the most sustainable source of water and on-site material to create a reservoir, in order to meet the growing need in the water-stressed South East and protect precious chalk streams.”

“We have worked closely with environmental partners to take advantage of this oneoff opportunity, to create a large new wetland for wildlife, to replant and improve at least 110 hectares of woodland and grassland, nearby to the reservoir and further afield, and establish a grant scheme to get other environmental projects in the area off the ground.”

“As we have updated our designs during the last year, we have now managed to reduce the loss of ancient woodland in three areas – by changing the line of the reservoir embankment, moving the parking area out of Bell’s Copse Wood and reducing the width of the access road from the north.”

“I would like to thank everyone again for taking the time to share their invaluable feedback and express their support, which means we can be sure the new reservoir meets the needs of our local communities, as well as securing the vital water resources our society needs for the future.”

Portsmouth Water has also been carrying out research with local young people, to gather their views on the reservoir, a facility that will be in use for decades to come.

Of the dozens of 11-18 year olds that took part, 90 per cent supported the scheme and many felt it would be good for physical and mental health by providing a new green space for leisure, exercise and enjoying time with friends and family.

Portsmouth Water’s ‘You said, we did’ consultation report is available online at www.portsmouthwater.co.uk/havant-thicket-reservoir