Whitewater Valley Conservation Society

River Whitewater and its Valley

The River Whitewater is a chalkstream located in Hampshire, Southern England.  The Whitewater runs from its source at Bidden to its confluence with the River Blackwater in North-East Hampshire.  This represents approximately nine miles of chalk stream, which is part of a network of chalkstreams that are particularly rare globally and highly valued for their unique ecological characteristics.

Chalkstreams are unique freshwater ecosystems.  There are only about 210 chalkstreams in the world, predominantly found in Southern England, characterised by their flow through chalk hills which naturally filter and maintain the purity of their water.  These streams are renowned for their exceptional clarity and stable thermal conditions, supporting a high level of biodiversity.

Chalkstreams are critical habitats for a variety of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species.  They serve as essential breeding grounds for specialised fish species like trout and salmon and are crucial for the lifecycle of various invertebrates.  Economically, these streams bolster local economies through recreational activities such as fly fishing, attracting anglers from around the world.

The primary threats to chalkstreams include water over-extraction, agricultural runoff, and climate change-induced alterations in water flow and volume.  These factors contribute to habitat degradation and a decline in water quality, posing significant risks to the ecological health of these systems.

Conservation strategies are focused on reducing water extraction, improving wastewater treatment to mitigate pollution, and restoring natural habitats to enhance resilience against climate change.  There is an ongoing need for stronger legal protections and increased funding for research and conservation to ensure the sustainability of chalkstreams.

The Water Framework Directive identifies the River Whitewater as a main water body and a Site of Importance to Nature Conservation (SINC).  Natural England and the Environment Agency recognise a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest  (SSSI) along the length of the river.  These designations afford statutory protection.

Hart District Council’s Landscape Character Assessment defines the special character of the valley, recognising the centuries which have moulded the river’s course from Greywell to Riseley.   As the local planning authority, Hart has a duty to protect the river.  It should also ensure that any plans protect and enhance the environment and its biodiversity.  Any development which could affect the river’s biodiversity, and specifically species identified in its Biodiversity Action Plan, must be assessed.

The Whitewater valley contains many listed buildings and heritage assets. These are also entitled to protection, as specified in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Whitewater Valley Conservation Society

The vision of the Whitewater Valley Conservation Society is to protect the River Whitewater and its valley.  Our mission is to defend the valley from inappropriate development and its resultant impact on the river.

Founder members formed the Whitewater Valley Preservation Society in 1980.  Our aim is to raise objections to unacceptable development proposals, which pose a significant threat to the health of the river and the landscape of its valley.  Threats to the River Whitewater and its valley are ever more present today.

Currently there are over 250 donors who support the Whitewater Valley Conservation Society.  Our supporters include individuals, local interest groups, parish councils and riparian owners along the River Whitewater.  You are invited to join us as a donor to the Whitewater Valley Conservation Society.

As a donor, you will be invited to attend our Annual General Meeting and at least one other exclusive event a year.  These events provide an opportunity to hear current updates on subjects as diverse as strategic planning developments and the status of the River Whitewater.  All we request is a modest annual subscription.

Contact us

To contact the Committee of the Whitewater Valley Conservation Society, enquire about becoming a supporter, or request further information, please send an email to ContactUs[@]WhitewaterValley.org.uk or use the Contact Form in the side panel.

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