The River Itchen and surrounding areas in Hampshire are under threat by a new development.

In Hampshire, the council at Eastleigh is considering a plan to put 6,300 homes on green fields, served by a bypass squeezed between two ancient protected woodlands once used by King John.

Equally serious is that the bypass will intrude on and then cross the River Itchen, which enjoys the EU’s highest level of protection as a Special Area of Conservation.

The Itchen is world famous as a classic chalkstream and conservation organisations are livid, particularly the Woodland Trust (which owns the key woods) and the CPRE.

A local campaign group, Action Against Destructive Development — who have dubbed themselves ADD’s Army (www.add-eastleigh.org) — advocates more sustainable development options.

The scheme is opposed by three local Tory MPs and a Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor. The EU fine for damaging a Special Area of Conservation could be about €40 million (£34.2 million).

The Government stated recently that ancient woodlands should be as protected as green fields.

Graham Mole

The River Itchen is renowned for its world-class trout fishing, especially during mayfly season

The River Itchen is renowned for its world-class trout fishing, especially during mayfly season