Last week, proposals for the reservoir, which is intended to supply up to 21 million litres each day, were given the go-ahead by the Havant Borough Council’s planning committee, after planning officers concluded that “wholly exceptional reasons” justified the loss of nearly 14(ha of ancient woodland.
However, East Hampshire Borough Council also needed to approve the application as the application site spans both boroughs.
In an extraordinary planning committee meeting yesterday, councillors voted 7 - 2 in favor of approving the project.
Portsmouth Water and Southern Water’s proposed reservoir is planned for a 160-hectare site next to Havant Thicket in Hampshire. It would be about one mile (1.6 km) long from east to west and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide from north to south. The reservoir would be up to 18 metres deep and have embankments on three sides, according to the water firms.
Campaigners - who are concerned over the loss of ancient woodland - have described the proposals as “unacceptable”.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/625)
10 Mar 2011
However, during the meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Neville Taylor said the 14ha of ancient woodland that would be lost as a result of the scheme represented “a quite tiny amount of ancient woodland and there is a great deal more that isn’t being touched”.
The Woodland Trust has objected to the scheme, claiming it would “result in the loss, damage and deterioration of numerous areas of ancient woodland and also to a number of veteran trees”.
Speaking during last night’s meeting, Tristan Norton, Hampshire County Council’s senior ecologist, said the development had the potential to breach the EU habitats directive if unmitigated.
“Any impact to a European protected species like the bats requires a derogation from the habitats directive. You need a license to remove a bat roost. The applicants have been in extensive discussions with the Natural England team and I understand that they have agreed a licensing strategy, not only for bats but also for the other European protected species such as hazel dormice and great crested newts.”
Norton said Natural England was likely to license the development should it recieve planning permission.