Awards 2021 Winner’s Spotlight: Best Practice Stakeholder Engagement Award

Havant Thicket Reservoir

Portsmouth Water, Atkins, Create 51, Agilia

This award was sponsored by

Portsmouth Water, in collaboration with Southern Water, is planning to create a new reservoir in Hampshire, securing reliable drinking water for the waterstressed South East. The scheme also aims to maximise community and environmental benefits from the new reservoir. Portsmouth Water strongly believe that a collaborative approach with stakeholders and the community will be crucial to delivering the scheme’s potential. As a result, extensive engagement has been carried out since 2004 when a Havant Thicket Stakeholder Group was established – bringing together a range of local stakeholders, environmental organisations, planning authorities and regulators, to review, challenge and inform the reservoir design.

A ‘Wetland’ sub-group comprised recognised local experts including Hampshire & IOW Wildlife Trust, the Local Planning Authority ecologist, and Natural England and Environment Agency specialists. An Outline Plan was informed by public consultation (2008). The scheme was then considered and approved through the Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) process. When the project was revived in 2019, a dedicated consultation team was formed, including the Portsmouth Water delivery team,Create 51 engagement specialists, Atkins design team and Agilia project managers.

To inform preparing the outline planning application, preparations for comprehensive public consultation in May 2020 were well underway when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. With ‘faceto-face’ engagement suddenly impossible, the team had to quickly adapt and deliver a fully remote, mainly digital consultation. This was achieved by:

  • Spreading the word: working hard to raise awareness with a postcard drop to 50,000 households; promoting the consultation in local media, promotion through partner websites/newsletters local council; community organisations; parish councils) and direct emails to an extensive stakeholder database and reservoir newsletter list.
  • Creating a suite of flexible print and digital materials: including: 24-page consultation brochure; 3D visualisation film; and video podcasts, interviewing different project team experts;
  • Developing interactive, virtual exhibition: housing all materials and capturing feedback through a questionnaire, comments and ideas boxes and an interactive map;
  • Answering questions using technology: through a series of public, stakeholder and staff webinars, presenting our proposals and answering questions via a live Q&A; and taking questions through social media and telephone;
  • Creating different ways to feedback: through the microsite and social media profiles, but also using a physical feedback form with a freepost return envelope, posted to 1,250 neighbours.

In total, there were 301 feedback forms plus 277 responses from other channels. The microsite received over 4,000 visits, 124 people attended public webinars, and 32 attended the stakeholder session.

The feedback informed final design decisions as the planning application was prepared, including access road route and features to mitigate landscape impacts. Feedback was summarised and responded to in a ‘You said, we’re doing’ report. A Design and Access Statement was also submitted with the application, charting design evolution, informed by stakeholder engagement.

Over the last week, we have been posting further information on each of the 2021 CIEEM Awards Winners over on our blog. Further details on each project/individual is set out in our 2021 CIEEM Awards Booklet.