Ancala-backed Portsmouth Water set to “re-wild” 80 hectares as part of Havant Thicket Reservoir project

Ancala-backed Portsmouth Water will “re-wild” 80-hectares of local farmland – the equivalent of nearly 200 football pitches – in partnership with an environmental trust, as part of its Havant Thicket Reservoir project.

The water company has entered into an agreement with the Pig Shed Trust, a charitable trust with an excellent track record of environmental improvements, to turn agricultural areas of South Holt Farm into a sanctuary for wildlife. The land is around two kilometres north east of the reservoir site.

The Pig Shed Trust will work with Portsmouth Water over the next 80 years to “re-wild” the farm by developing woodland, wood pasture and grassland habitats. The trust works on the principle of using natural processes where possible, which will result in a resilient range of habitats with a lower carbon footprint when compared with other methods of tree planting.

These works are part of Portsmouth Water’s much larger commitment to plant and improve over 200 hectares of woodland and wood pasture locally, including planting more than 6,000 trees on the edge of the reservoir site, restoring streams and carrying out extensive improvements to established woodland in nearby Southleigh Forest and Havant Thicket.

Havant Thicket Reservoir is first and foremost an environmentally-led project that will protect two world-renowned chalk rivers in Hampshire, by providing a new, sustainable source of water.

Harvey Jones, Chair and Trustee of the Pig Shed Trust, said:

“The Pig Shed Trust will be managing South Holt as a sanctuary for wildlife. We use natural processes where possible and human intervention where necessary with the aim of providing wild creatures with somewhere to live and something to eat. Our primary focus is on invertebrates, particularly butterflies. In our experience, if the insects are flourishing, then the plants and other animals are also doing well.

“Our partnership with Portsmouth Water will provide a secure, long-term future for our project at South Holt. This ensures that the landscape will have the necessary time to develop into the most diverse habitat possible.”

Liz Brown, Environmental Manager for Havant Thicket Reservoir, said:

“It’s a real privilege to work on a project that takes its commitment to restoring and enhancing the local environment so seriously. This 80-hectare rewilding project will be running for 80 years and will involve restoring an area of agricultural land to woodland, wood pasture and grassland. We are delighted to be partnering with the Pig Shed Trust, which has an excellent track record of creating tangible, measurable improvements in the natural environment.”

Ancala invested in Portsmouth Water in 2018 and has since helped the company to implement improvements across the business. These improvements have been delivered while maintaining low prices, low leakages and enhancing its best-in-class customer service.

Through its expertise and funding, Ancala has helped Portsmouth Water to secure planning permission to start constructing the UK’s first major reservoir since the 1980s. The infrastructure investor is providing the project with a further £120m of equity funding through its Growth Fund, announced in July 2023.

For more information about the Havant Thicket Reservoir project, please visit