Woolstone seen from below the White Horse. Photo: Duncan Baber

Borehole on White Horse Hill

At the village meeting in May 2009, Richard Henderson of the National Trust described their proposal to sink a borehole in to White Horse Hill. In response to points raised at the meeting Richard Henderson wrote to Jeremy Twynam and proposed a meeting on site.

The text of the letter from Richard Henderson to Jeremy Twynam is reproduced below (1). The on site meeting took place on 3rd June where further details and maps were provided regarding the intended borehole and the associated reservoir. These details and the maps are also reproduced below (2). At the meeting it was explained that although the proposed works are being undertaken by the National Trust, this is in response to a request from Natural England (formerly English Nature), who are charged, amongst other things, with maintaining natural grasslands.

If you have any further comments, views or questions about this, please contact Jeremy Twynam (820222).

(1) Letter from Richard Henderson to Jeremy Twynam 26th May 2009

Dear Mr Twynam,

Further to our telephone conversation last week I am writing to explain the National Trust’s proposals to sink a Borehole in to White Horse Hill.

The rationale for this work is to improve the nature conservation interest of the chalk grassland. The site has SSSI (site of special scientific interest) status but unfortunately the condition is in decline due to the Trust’s inability to grave [sic!] cattle on the site. The land is currently grazed with sheep and their water requirement is modest and at present provided by a bowser. A considerably greater quantity of water is required for cattle and this makes the use of a bowser no longer viable.

Having explored several options a borehole is to be constructed in the corner of the Trust’s car park. Using solar power the borehole water will be pumped to a small reservoir located within a field corner close to the Ridgeway, before being gravity fed to a number of troughs.

I understand from our conversation that a small number of properties within Woolstone rely on spring water from the ‘Woolstone Springs’ which take their water from the side of the hill. I can understand the concerns of local residents who fear that the abstraction of water may affect their supply. However having spoken to our Farm and Countryside Advisor he has confirmed that the size of the chalk aquifer will easily support both operations.

You mentioned on the phone that residents were also concerned that this might be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ in terms of National Trust development on the site and toilets and visitor facilities will follow. Although these can never be ruled out the Trust at present has no plans to put in such facilities.

I would be pleased to meet with you on the site and run through the plans in more detail before the Trust submit the planning application.

(2) Details of Proposed Borehole Installation at White Horse Hill - (click here to download a copy of the maps showing the location of the proposed borehole and reservoir):

The site survey and specification were carried out by: Matthew Barrett, Agricultural Water Engineers (Borehole and water engineers), The Yard, Brightside Farm, Salisbury Road, Broughton, Hampshire, SO20 8BX (07831 173198).

The borehole to be located within the car park is expected to be 105m deep, height is 210m AOD. The reservoir will be partially dug in towards the south end of the site in the corner of thistle down field near the Ridgeway (2.5L x 2W x 2H). 500mm will be above ground with a small earth bank around it and 15m will be below ground. It will be located at a height of 250m with car park at 210m Given a borehole depth of 105m would mean lifting the water:

(250 – 210) + 105m = 145m

The Pump (SQF 0.6-3) has a head of 150m and at 145m head will produce about 3m cube a day subject to the sun. The water rest level in the borehole will be about 70m and should draw down to about 85m when pumping if at all, due to the low flow rate. The pump will be set about 10m off of the bottom of the borehole and the head of pressure only starts at the water level in the borehole.

The borehole sits under a small GRP cabinet (1.5L x 0.5W x 0.5H). The solar panels are of course visible (4L x 2W x 2.5H) and a small fence of some sort will be required to keep them secure.

There is no overlap with works on the SAM’s (scheduled ancient monuments). No EH consent is required as it is outside the area of the management agreement. An archaeological watching brief of the reservoir excavation may be required.

Planning Permission and prior notification is required to the Vale of White Horse District Council as it is an Agricultural Development.



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