M3 Junction 9 - Putting nature in the driving seat

Nature’s recovery must be at the heart of any plans to change junction 9 of the M3.

The proposals from Highways England are intended to ease congestion and allow for growth across Hampshire.

The existing road system creates bottlenecks, contributing to the unacceptable levels of air pollution and damaging sensitive surrounding habitats.

However, the current plans for a new scheme fundamentally fail to consider or address the urgency of repairing and restoring our natural environment.

What does this have to do with wildlife?

The preferred route for the new junction 9 would see important space for wildlife lost. The plans would cut through parts of the South Downs National Park and destroy both woodland and chalk downland.
The route would clip our own nature reserve at Winnall Moors, a vital sanctuary for wildlife in the heart of Winchester city.

Beyond the direct loss of land, the current proposal would see further pressure on the internationally important chalk stream habitat of the River Itchen, which not only supports a host of incredible species such as kingfishers, otters, watervoles, and trout, but also provides a vital water source for the local population.

Kingfishers © Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Kingfishers © Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

The journey to here

The creation of today’s motorway, in the early 90s, brutally cut through Twyford Down, creating a devastating and lasting scar on the landscape. Our nature reserve at St Catherine’s Hill was compromised, vital wildlife corridors were severed and our natural environment has been slowly suffocated by the development and industrial sprawl facilitated by this scheme.

The damage has never been adequately addressed and is now at risk of being compounded.

We need to change direction
We cannot keep squeezing nature into smaller and more isolated pockets. We cannot keep making space for more cars and pursuing development at the expense of wildlife and our precious natural resources.

Both globally and locally, we are facing a climate emergency and ecological breakdown. We must secure nature’s recovery and find new economic and social models for the future.

M3 protest

What is needed?

Highways England must now deal with the legacy of damage from previous schemes and ensure that there is real and tangible net gain for nature. Nothing short of major investment in nature’s recovery and decarbonisation is now acceptable.

Any proposed scheme must include:
• Large scale habitat creation. Significant new areas of chalk downland could be restored, utilising chalk excavated during construction.

• Restoration of woodland, trees and hedgerows in surrounding areas, helping to improve air quality .

• An eco-bridge across the motorway, re-uniting the severed down of St Catherine’s Hill and the ‘dongas’ and establishing a proper gateway to the South Downs National Park.

• A commitment to investing in sustainable transport for the future, improving public transport.