Two south Hampshire councils are joining forces to seek benefits for their boroughs from two pots of Government money aimed at increasing wetlands, woodlands and meadows in the Solent area. Cllr Seán Woodward, Leader of Fareham Borough Council and Cllr Stephen Philpott, who is in charge of Economic Development at Gosport, want to see more land between the two towns “rewilded”.
This shared vision follows last month’s announcement by the Government to invest £3.9million to set up an online ‘nitrate-trading’ auction platform. They are also considering a loan to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust for further land purchase in the Solent region for ‘rewilding’. Both initiatives would provide additional habitat rich areas for wildlife whilst unlocking much needed homes, with the backing of Natural England.
Three weeks ago, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, joined 65 world leaders in a pledge to reverse losses of wildlife habitats. In the UK that will mean an additional 400,000 hectares of woodland, wetland and meadow by the end of the decade.
Cllr Woodward said: “What we would like to see is the entire Strategic Gap that lies between Fareham and Gosport, and between Fareham and Stubbington rewilded to provide nitrate mitigation and preserve wildlife and this scheme offers us the opportunity to achieve that. I have been an unwavering supporter of preserving our precious Strategic Gaps and indeed seeking their designation as Green Belt. The recent announcement by Government that Fareham is likely to see a reduction in the number of houses it is required to plan for means we are now in a position to make an approach to our partners to secure land in the Fareham-Stubbington Strategic Gap for rewilding”.
Although the Fareham-Stubbington Strategic Gap is mainly in Fareham there would also be a significant environmental benefit for Gosport.
Cllr Philpott said: “This is a great example of local councils working together for the benefit of their residents. Seán and I have today written to the Wildlife Trust to secure their backing for our idea to see a significant environment gain in our immediate neighbourhood. 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.”