PLANS to install 7km of overground piping across the Hampshire countryside have received backlash.

Southern Water are seeking permission to run black plastic pipes through the Itchen and Candover Valleys.

These will be part of the Candover Drought Order Scheme, which is in place to prevent severe droughts in the area for the next ten years.

But residents in Northington – where the pipes will run through – feel as though their opinions have been overlooked.

John Mitchell, chairman of Northington Parish Council, said: "Southern Water are lucky that the current crisis prevented them from organising a meeting in our village.

"The closest they came was holding a meeting in Itchen Abbas which only some of us could attend. Coming here would be like a lions den and they don't fancy being chewed."

Mr Mitchell has "a whole list" of issues with the plans, which he describes as "completely inappropriate", and says they will "damage the countryside significantly".

He told the Chronicle: "Firstly, Southern Water want to lay the pipes along hedgerows. This not only ruins a historic and beautiful landscape, but it is a farmer's statutory duty to keep hedges trimmed – how can they cut them with huge pipes on top?"

The pipes will be used temporarily and stored in black fencing on Kites Hill when finished with.

Permanent foundations will be laid underground to make it easier for the pipes to be reinstalled if necessary.

"This temporary solution is the cheaper option – a crude engineering solution at the cost of the environment," added Mr Mitchell.

"When we attended the meeting in Itchen Abbas, it emerged that less destructive options are more expensive. This is not about convenience. We live here.

"In Otterbourne Southern Water has a huge facility which is just a 20 minute drive away from Kites Hill, so why can't they keep it there?"

Mr Mitchell also raised concerns over the time it would take to lay the pipes.

He added: "The application states that it would take up to 20 weeks to lay the pipes and the same amount of time to remove them.

"That is a lot of time at our expense, and surely they would have to test them once a year?

"It just seems that the environmental aspects and our opinions have been overlooked in the application, and I don't see how this can go ahead."

The chairman hopes that Southern Water will acknowledge that Kites Hill has rich floral heritage.

Dark Mullein grows there, as well as white hellborines and chalkland orchids.

Ivy bees have been spotted in the area alongside lychnis moths, which are considered a national rarity.

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: "We held a public consultation session in January to present our Candover drought scheme, where our team listened to the feedback and comments that were raised.

"This pipeline scheme is required to be available for use in a drought, and solely as a temporary measure during the period up to 2030.

"These plans have been agreed with the Environment Agency and the pipeline route takes into account environmental and planning constraints, as well as engineering and operational requirements.

"Our final plans have now been submitted to the local planning authority."