Exclusive: More than 1,000 homes in limbo as phosphate levels paralyse planning process

Updated legal advice from Natural England has forced a West Midlands council to halt planning decisions until it brings phosphate levels affecting a European protected site under control.

Following a freedom of information request, ENDS can reveal that wildlife regulator Natural England has been unwilling to support any development proposals that could  harm the River Lugg catchment of Herefordshire – a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and part of the River Wye Special Area of Conservation (SAC) –  unless there was certainty that the level of phosphates in the river could be brought down. 

This has meant that since July, Herefordshire Council has been unable to process some 130 planning applications for 1,100 homes, including one planning application for around 500 homes near the market town of Bromyard that has been allocated for development in the council’s local plan.

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