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Nutrient neutrality (nitrates)

New Forest District Council is committed to permitting sustainable development, as long as it includes the relevant environmental protections. Part of the consideration of this is whether there would be a detrimental impact on the water quality of any European Designated Nature Conservation Sites. Following recent case law, residential development and other schemes providing overnight accommodation will need to achieve 'nutrient neutrality'.

There is existing evidence of high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water environment with evidence of eutrophication at some designated sites. As such, there is considered to be a likely significant effect from residential (and similar) developments located anywhere in the New Forest District. As a result, an avoidance and mitigation package will be needed in order for the Council to lawfully grant any planning permission.

On Wednesday 4 September 2019, New Forest District Council's Cabinet approved the Position Statement on Nutrient Neutral Development .  The position statement highlights those developments which are expected to provide avoidance and mitigation on-site, thus resulting in a nutrient neutral development. It also sets out that, for any other applicable developments, the exact scale of avoidance and mitigation package (which would take the form of a financial contribution) is not yet known.

As part of the information needed to determine relevant planning applications, a European Site avoidance and mitigation checklist will be required. This should be submitted to the council as part of the suite of planning application documents.

The checklist sets out that as a result, in order for the development to comply with the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations and for the Council to lawfully be able to grant planning permission, it will be necessary to impose a grampian condition requiring the provision of an avoidance and mitigation package prior to the occupation of the development. It is at the applicant's risk as to whether to proceed with any development that is granted planning permission without the knowledge of the precise scale of the avoidance and mitigation package.

Natural England have published advice on achieving nutrient neutrality for new development affected by this issue which can be found here. adobe icon Advice on achieving nutrient neutrality for new development in the Solent region [634kb]

Updated: 3 Oct 2019
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