New Havant reservoir 'could destroy ancient woodland'
A "significant area" of ancient woodland could be destroyed if new reservoir plans go ahead, the Woodland Trust has said.
Portsmouth Water and Southern Water are planning a £100m reservoir on land between Staunton Country Park and Havant Thicket in Hampshire.
They said it would secure "much-needed" water supplies.
But the trust said four areas of woodland, totalling 14 hectares (34.5 acres), could be cut down.
The areas of woodland the trust said could be destroyed are Round Wood, Middle Clearing, part of Havant Thicket and The Avenue, which is also designated as wood pasture.
"This special place forms part of the historic Forest of Bere which dates back almost a thousand years to 1086," the Woodland Trust said.
The trust's lead campaigner, Jack Taylor, said: "It is one of our rarest habitats. It has lain undisturbed for centuries, evolving into a delicate eco-system capable of supporting thousands of species of birds, mammals, invertebrates, lichens, mosses, flowers and plants.
"At this time of climate and nature emergency we should be protecting this habitat, not destroying it."
Portsmouth Water, which owns the 160-hectare site, said the reservoir would "secure much-needed supplies for the water-stressed county", hold 8,700 million litres and supply up to 21 million litres of water each day.
It would also create a new public leisure space and "sustainable wetland" along its northern shore "to offer a new home for a wide range of water plants, wetland birds and other wildlife", it said.
"Alongside these commitments we will carry out improvements to local streams and design the reservoir itself to support a variety of species and deliver an overall net gain for the environment," the company added.
The public consultation on plans for the reservoir, which would be the first new one to be built in south east England since the 1970s, runs until 8 June.