‘Havant is under threat – act now to save our wildlife’

Under Threat, The water vole is a rare sight nowadays
Picture: Derek Middleton, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust recently described some native species as ‘in freefall’ with significant reductions in water voles, white butterflies, nightingales, ringed plovers and sparrows.

Across the UK the Trust estimated that 56 per cent of species have declined over the past 50 years, with 15 per cent at risk of disappearing altogether.

The losses show no sign of slowing as the government demands tens of thousands of new homes and their infrastructure in South Hampshire mostly built on green fields, including flood plains.

It’s not just rapid urban development that is contributing to the loss. Intensive farming methods with their reliance on fossil fuel-based chemicals to deal with pests and diseases and the ripping out of natural habitats like hedges and trees are another major cause.

Our changing climate, while it may benefit new and possibly some unwelcome species, will cause others to move north and eventually disappear.

We don’t need an expert to tell us that our wildlife is in trouble. Responses to a recent survey organised by Havant Environment Group in which 670 residents from across the borough took part provides further strong evidence.

In reply to a question about observing the loss of local wildlife, most people came back with a list headed by hedgehogs, butterflies and garden birds, frogs, wild flowers and even insects.

Another question about the greatest threat to Havant’s natural environment put urban development as greater that pollution and flooding.

Havant’s future housing plans will see hundreds of acres of green land concreted over.

The question is how we combine meeting community needs and protect the continued viability of nature.

Sustainability is simply living within our means but for politicians and planners, it has become a byword for trade-offs between economic, social and environment factors where nature usually comes off being the loser.