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Paper 4B -  28 November 2003 Meeting

HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT CHIEF EXECUTIVES’ GROUP

7 November 2003

HAMPSHIRE WATER STRATEGY

Report by Mike Bridgeman, Hampshire County Council

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RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the Hampshire Water Strategy is broadly welcomed as an attempt to balance the needs of the county’s population with those of its freshwater environment; and

(2) That an individual officer is nominated by each district and unitary authority for the Hampshire Water Partnership to liaise with during the implementation of the Hampshire Water Strategy.
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BACKGROUND

1. Hampshire is blessed with a high quality freshwater environment, which gains much of its distinctiveness from the wide expanse of exposed chalk aquifer forming the Hampshire Downs. Over 70% of the county’s water supply comes from this groundwater resource (compared to just one-third nationally), with much of the rest abstracted from exceptionally high quality chalk rivers such as the Test, Itchen, Meon and Avon. These rivers are highly productive ecologically, and Hampshire has more riverine and wetland Sites of Special Scientific Interest than any other county in England, The county also plays host to 317 water meadows and approximately 200 water mills.

2. However, the county’s water environment faces substantial pressures such as climate change, development, increasing domestic consumption of water, pollution and flooding. Against this background, a multi-agency partnership, the first of its type in the UK and perhaps even Europe, was established in 2001 to ensure the long-term future of Hampshire’s remarkable rivers, wetlands and aquifers. The Hampshire Water Partnership comprises the following representatives from the private, public and voluntary sectors - the Environment Agency, Hampshire Association of Parish & Town Councils, Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Wildlife Trust, National Farmers’ Union, New Forest District Council, Southampton City Council, Southern Water, Taylor Woodrow, and WaterVoice Southern.

THE HAMPSHIRE WATER STRATEGY

3. The Hampshire Water Strategy (HWS) was launched at Milestones Museum in Basingstoke in March 2003, following a collaborative development process. The HWS attempts to address all the issues facing the county’s freshwater environment, and suggest ways forward via a diverse 42-point action plan containing around 100 individual targets. A copy of the full document is enclosed with the papers for this meeting.

4. In terms of the strategy’s development, the issues were scoped at a stakeholder event in September 2001 attended by over 40 organisations. The outputs from this event were used as the basis for a Consultation Draft HWS published in July 2002, which received over 50 sets of comments. At both these stages, a wide range of stakeholders were invited to contribute including all the local authorities in Hampshire. Whilst most Hampshire local authorities attended and contributed fully to the stakeholder event, only a few took the opportunity to comment on the Consultation Draft HWS. This could partly be due to the topic of water being relevant to a number of different departments and disciplines, with no one section taking the lead.

IMPLEMENTATION – THE ROLE OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN HAMPSHIRE

5. The current HWS Action Plan covers the period 2003-2006. To ensure its effective implementation, the Hampshire Water Partnership needs the support of many additional partners. All the local authorities in Hampshire are of particular importance on a range of actions under topics such as development planning, sustainable drainage, demand management, and land and river management. Such actions include establishing a set of model water planning policies, developing ways of significantly increasing the use of sustainable drainage systems in new developments, reducing the risk of urban and rural flooding, and raising public awareness of the need to use water wisely.

6. Hampshire’s high quality freshwater environment is being placed under increasing pressure. The Hampshire Water Partnership was formed to pool the skills and knowledge of, and add value to the good work already undertaken by, a range of individual organisations. The HWS was subsequently published as an attempt to balance the needs of the county’s population with those of its freshwater environment.

7. To date, the Hampshire Water Partnership’s ability to engage with local authorities has met with some success, but the Partnership realises there is room for improvement in this area. This paper is therefore being put before the Association a) to raise awareness of the HWS, and b) to make a recommendation designed to help improve interaction with, and increase the influence of, local authorities during the implementation of the HWS.

MIKE BRIDGEMAN
Principal Environment Officer, Hampshire County Council

Date: 12 November 2003
Annex: A copy of the Hampshire Water Strategy is available from County Council's Environment Department
Contact: 01962 845832/mike.bridgeman@hants.gov.uk

Last update: 18/11/2003
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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