Nitrates crisis: Portsmouth ends housing freeze

A Hampshire council has ended its moratorium on house building by introducing “nitrate credits” to mitigate the algae damage affecting protected habitats in the area.

In June, Portsmouth City Council was among 11 local authorities in south Hampshire that suspended making planning decisions following advice from nature regulator Natural England that developments affecting the Solent – home to EU-protected sites – should only be permitted if they were nitrate-neutral.

The advice was prompted by European Court of Justice rulings that tightened the rules on mitigating the impacts of new development schemes on such sensitive habitats. 

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The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/1012)

In force/
Current
Legislation
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, UK, Wales
Published
09 Jan 2018

Commentary

02/11/2017 An explanatory memorandum was published alongside these Regulations., 20/11/2017 A correction slip was published.
10/12/2018 Amending Regulations (SI 2018/1307) published., 19/03/2019 Amending Regulations ( SI 2019/579) published.

Compliance Dates

30/11/2017 Comes into force

Characteristics

Subject

Land and development Wildlife and conservation

Source

OPSI (Office of Public Sector Information)

Affected Sectors

Cross-sector Agriculture Animal Boarding and Pest Control Fishing and aquaculture Forestry Water Electricity Gas Construction Transport Road Transport Consultancy Offices Real Estate and Public Administration Public Sector Conservation Land Management and Landscaping
ECM

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/1012)

Document Status: In force/Current

Scope: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, UK, Wales

Commentary:

02/11/2017 An explanatory memorandum was published alongside these Regulations., 20/11/2017 A correction slip was published.
10/12/2018 Amending Regulations (SI 2018/1307) published., 19/03/2019 Amending Regulations ( SI 2019/579) published.

Compliance:

30/11/2017 Comes into force

Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet had agreed to a new strategy to see nitrate output from new development offset against water-saving measures in the council’s existing housing stock. 

Last week, the council’s planning committee resumed hearing residential planning applications and approved a 108-home development on an old dairy site, the first development approved under the nitrates scheme.

The council’s strategy is based on saving water within the council’s existing residential stock, either through holding homes due for redevelopment vacant, or through retrofitting measures to improve water efficiency. The strategy’s overarching aim is to ensure that there is no net increase in wastewater being sent from the city council area to Budds Farm – a waste water treatment works in neighbouring Havant district.

An officers’ report on the new strategy said: "The water savings will be monitored and recorded as 'credit', which can be secured by applicants to help mitigate the impact of their proposals."

According to council officers, the strategy could create enough "mitigation credits" for 518 homes a year. This is at a cost of around £4,345 for the average cost of efficiency upgrades to the council, which will be paid by all major development proposals of 10 units or more. 

The policy would  allow developers two other alternatives - offsetting nutrient output against existing water uses on an application site, or other mitigation measures such as the creation of sustainable urban drainage systems.

Last week, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council joined other south Hampshire councils in declaring a housing freeze.

To view the council’s Interim Nutrient Neutral Mitigation Strategy for New Dwellings click here

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