Government reveals new nutrient neutrality measures

The government has unveiled new plans to drive down nutrient pollution and allow for the construction of sustainable new homes for families across the country.

As part of this, Natural England has established a Nutrient Mitigation Scheme to support investment in new habitats which will ‘soak up’ or mitigate the impacts of unavoidable nutrient pollution.

Under the scheme — which is expected to open in the Autumn — developers can purchase ‘nutrient credits’, which will discharge the requirements to provide mitigation.

Natural England will accredit mitigation delivered through the scheme, enabling local planning authorities to grant planning permission for projects that have secured the necessary credits.

In addition, the government has announced a new legal duty on water companies in England to upgrade wastewater treatment works in nutrient neutrality areas to the highest achievable technological levels by 2030, in order to tackle the main nutrients causing pollution in protected wildlife sites.

The plans have been welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

“The government has made the right decision to address industry concerns about the impact of nutrient neutrality which was halting much needed new housing development,” said Brian Berry, chief executive at the FMB.

“While it is important that steps are taken to protect our natural environment, the current rules were having a chilling effect on an industry already facing many hurdles to build.”

Brian added that he was pleased that responsibility had been placed on the water and sewage companies to address nutrient pollution in the water system.

Local Government Association environment spokesperson David Renard was also glad of the new regulations.

“Councils want safe, clean, thriving natural environments alongside the sustainable development of housing, growth and jobs.

“Councils have always been clear that limiting new developments alone will not be enough to improve the state of English rivers.

“Our recent research found 17,000 homes a year were impacted by development bans, so we are pleased that these measures will mean some areas will be able to build homes again."

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