Council approves housing scheme in nitrates crisis zone against regulator advice

A 108-home development on an old dairy site near Portsmouth has become the first south Hampshire housing scheme to be approved since a nitrates crisis paralysed the planning system, but Natural England fears the council could be making a mistake.

Since June, planning inspectors have blocked a clutch of proposals for new homes on the south coast following legal advice from Natural England advising local authorities that new developments in the Solent region should only be permitted if they were nitrogen-neutral. 

EU-protected sites across the Solent are in ”unfavourable condition” – where green algae cover is greater than 75%  – due to agricultural runoff and wastewater from treatment works. This has lead to eutrophication negatively impacting the Solent’s protected habitats and bird species, which Natural England wants to see reversed. 

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