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To: MICHAEL GOVE and IAN MCAULAY (CEO of Southern Water)


15/04/18 We Won!

Further to your truly amazing support we've achieved a very positive outcome!

The HUGEST thanks from Howard and I - this result would not have happened without you!

Jim & Howard.

A public inquiry called by the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove concluded on 27th March with a formal agreement to restrict the amount of water Southern Water is allowed to abstract from the world famous chalk rivers Test and Itchen.

The company has not only abandoned its longstanding plans for a £50 million pipeline that could have transferred up to 45 million litres of water a day from the River Test to the Itchen but has also now agreed to tight restrictions on the more limited transfer it had proposed at the start of the inquiry.

To stop Southern Water using a Public Inquiry to shortcut the correct procedure, to over-ride the Environment Agency’s sustainable licensing, and to increase abstraction to ruinous levels on our precious chalk streams.

"As a proponent of the Itchen I wanted to give Howard Taylor and his passionate campaigning for the Test my full support and unite both rivers in this hugely important & common cause."
Jim Murray.

Why is this important?

Southern Water seek to gain Michael Gove’s approval to increase river abstraction to levels NEVER SEEN BEFORE. Climate change is exacerbating the situation. We desperately need alternative & timely options to supply public water.

The internationally rare English chalk stream riverine habitats & their wildlife are now under severe threat from over abstraction, especially in times of drought. This could prove catastrophic for species such as the genetically unique chalk stream salmon, sea trout, or Hampshire’s last population of the rare native crayfish, let alone the rivers themselves & the livelihoods that depend upon them.

We must stop Southern Water using a Public Inquiry to gain Michael Gove’s approval to increase river abstraction to potentially catastrophic and reprievable levels. They intend to sidestep the correct procedure and ride roughshod over our public bodies, which are there to safeguard our environment. Challenging Natural England’s advice & the EA's sustainable licensing to increase abstraction to ruinous levels on our precious chalk streams, in order to meet their corporate goals – profit.
We desperately need alternative, sustainable and timely options to supply public water. Action NOW is essential to ensure our rivers are properly protected in the future.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire, Salmon & Trout Conservation, Wild Trout Trust, Test and Itchen Association, Angling Trust and Fish Legal, and the Wessex Chalk streams and Rivers Trust, all oppose Southern Water’s position.

HOW? Beginning 13th March, Southern Water through public inquiry are asking Michael Gove (Secretary of State) to approve their increased abstraction plans directly. If upheld, this will by-pass the normal procedures for obtaining an abstraction licence, and will not involve full public consultation including direct and fair engagement with river owners and users - an absolutely CRUCIAL involvement as there is so much at stake in these very complex decisions. SW are using ‘strong arm’ tactics in the Inquiry to make the EA use their legal powers to force river owners and users to co-operate.
Some of these proposed actions are highly emotive and again deny the public the fair right to comment.

WHAT OTHER DAMAGE COULD THIS CAUSE? Increasing populations and housing in Hampshire are greater than our natural water resources can now sustain. Demand has already exceeded the capacity our rivers and aquifers can supply. So at a time of water scarcity, on already over abstracted rivers, the threat is that SWS customers will be literally sucking the life out of the rivers Candover, Itchen and Test. This will deplete the river flows to levels that will devastate the natural aquatic environment. People will be watering their gardens as the flow of these rivers falls to dangerously unprecedented levels. Is this what people would want if they knew about it?

THE SOLUTION - As we speak, Southern Water are preparing to publish a 'draft Water resources management plan' (and Drought Plan) for public consultation. They claim their plans will have a bold vision, with ambitious and innovative ways to secure the necessary alternative sources of supply to enable the Environment Agency’s licence changes to be made. These alternatives will be costly and include trading with Portsmouth Water, Havant Thicket Reservoir and a desalination plant in the Solent. That is what it will take to protect our Chalk streams from over abstraction.
HOWEVER, SOUTHERN WATER WILL ONLY IMPLEMENT THESE AMBITIOUS NEW PLANS IF IT LOSES THE INQUIRY! If it wins then it may well in likelihood implement a shadow version...
This Inquiry is Southern Water’s last-ditch attempt to cling onto its 40-year-old business model of over exploiting our chalk streams – one that generates a healthy profit margin at huge expense to the environment.

No more stalling by this corporate Leviathan, which is investing large amounts of bill payers’ money on scientific models not fit for purpose to prove their 'case'. Instead they should be working together with and not against NGO’s, stakeholders, their clients and you the people to find alternative water supplies that will safeguard our rivers for generations to come.

Please help support the EA's and NE's efforts to protect our rivers by signing our petition to ensure that Southern Water Services take note of their customers’ concerns for the sustainability and protection of these British gems.

Many Thanks,
Jim & Howard.

"The proposed increase in water abstraction from the Test, Itchen & Candover will have a serious, if not disastrous, effect on the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem. We obviously need to meet the water needs of our ever-expanding population but there are less harmful ways to do this. The true chalk streams are only found in Britain (apart from a small presence in Normandy); we are custodians of these precious jewels & we owe it to our children and grandchildren not to undermine them"
PAUL WHITEHOUSE - Comedian & fisherman.

SW's turnover last year was approx £800 million, with a profit of more than £250 million. Their divis to corporate shareholders were somewhere over £100 million. Thankfully their operations and behaviour are now being scrutinised. See BBC news:

Documents for the public enquiry -

Photo by Charles Rangeley Wilson


Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


2018-04-16 12:28:43 +0100

Petition is successful with 5,741 signatures

2018-03-12 23:39:40 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2018-02-26 16:31:29 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2018-02-26 14:26:29 +0000

500 signatures reached

2018-02-26 12:10:23 +0000

100 signatures reached

2018-02-26 10:00:26 +0000

50 signatures reached

2018-02-26 07:01:56 +0000

25 signatures reached

2018-02-25 20:49:40 +0000

10 signatures reached