Nutrient Neutrality - DEFRA Policy Paper Update
On 31 March 2023 Central Government published updates to a policy paper on plans to support nutrient neutrality and reduce water pollution.
The need to address pollution is impacting on development permissions and slowing down housing delivery across 74 Local Planning Authorities. The Government is taking a range of steps to reduce pollution at source to protect important freshwater habitats and rivers while developing schemes which support sustainable development.
Steps being taken include:
- Speeding up the process for developers to acquire mitigation through a national £30 million nutrient mitigation scheme;
- Significantly reducing pollution and cost of mitigation by requiring water companies to upgrade wastewater treatment works;
- Providing clarity for developers and local planning authorities with a package of tools and guidance; and,
- Restoring protected sites and tackling pollution at source with legally binding targets on water quality and protected site strategies.
The first mitigation projects are now underway in the Tees catchment area, with Natural England opening the first round of applications to developers at the end of March 2023. Feasibility studies are in progress in other catchments to determine mitigation sites for those areas.
Natural England is developing a framework for assessing the effectiveness of different types of mitigation and an associated reference tool to be published by the end of May 2023. They will also provide best practice guidance on using different constructed and nature-based solutions to mitigate nutrient pollution, supported by new guidance from the Environment Agency and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
Cole Easdon have experience in undertaking Nutrient Neutrality Assessments for nitrates and phosphates, and can advise on mitigation measures.