Update on Nutrient Neutrality
H&H Land & Estates provides an update regarding the widespread issues caused by nutrient neutrality.
In early 2022, Natural England hit the development sector hard, stating that any new development must not contribute to an increase in nutrient levels found in the surrounding waterbodies, in the identified catchment areas. Whilst this decision initially forced many large-scale planning consents for residential development to hit the brakes, attention is now also being further directed at agricultural development, where the proposed development would increase livestock numbers (and therefore nutrient outputs).
Everyone at H&H Land & Estates has today given detail that it anticipates that the requirement for all relevant planning applications across the north of England to be ‘nutrient neutral’ will not only remain, but that specific attention is also likely to be directed to development that would lead to an increase in livestock.
Already confirmed by Eden District Council (EDC), it is expected that other local authorities across northern England will take the same view.
In accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended), Natural England has required, since March of this year, that all new development in Cumbria involving residential and tourist accommodation within the catchment areas of the River Eden SAC, the Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake SAC, and the River Kent SAC needed to be phosphorous neutral, i.e. designed such that phosphorus from all surface water runoff and wastewater generated by the development is less than or equal to that generated by the existing land use.
In the North East and Yorkshire, nutrient neutrality affects the Lindisfarne SPA (Northumberland CC) and the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast SPA (Durham CC, Darlington BC, Hartlepool BC, Middlesbrough Council, and Redcar & Cleveland BC).
Nationally, 27 catchment areas across 42 Local Authorities are affected.
In accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended), Natural England has required, since March of this year, that all new development in these areas, involving residential and tourist accommodation, as well as many types of agricultural development, needs to be nitrate and phosphates neutral, i.e. designed such that nitrates/phosphates from all surface water runoff and wastewater generated by the development is less than or equal to that generated by the existing land use.
In particular, the regulations affect:
- Agricultural development involving increases in livestock numbers.
- Residential development.
- New overnight visitor accommodation: including camping, glamping, or caravan pitches that are served by on-site facilities, and new hotel bedroom accommodation.
- New tourism development: this is classified as anything that is likely to increase the number of visitors during the day to a premises.
Robert Jauneika, Associate & Chartered Surveyor based in the company’s Durham office commented “When considering new schemes clients need to be aware and take account of the requirement for any relevant planning application to be accompanied by the appropriate assessments and reports. These new requirements of the planning system have caused significant delays and frustration to a range of types of development in the affected areas, including holding up planning consent for over 100,000 new homes across the country.”
Mitigation strategies for these nutrient neutrality issues is complex and involves the changing of land management practices to reduce nutrient levels arising from the existing land use. This can include, for example, taking land out of arable production to reduce nitrate/phosphate applications, the creation of new wetlands, or implementing better Sustainable Drainage Systems in urban areas.
Robert concludes "Taking land out of agricultural production to achieve nutrient neutrality objectives is proving to be particularly controversial with our clients, at a time when food security has not been as important since the days of the Second World War”.
Commenting on the planning process, Angus Hutchinson, Planning Consultant here at H&H Land & Estates went on to say , “In particular, applications will now be required to be accompanied by Nutrient Neutrality Mitigation and Assessment reports in order for their planning application to be considered. This is a very detailed and in-depth process, and applications are already facing delays, so I would advise anyone who is considering planning permissions in the affected areas to consult with an agent/advisor who can help them decide the best strategy to adopt and help them through the application process.”
Here at H&H Land & Estates, leading land and property specialists in the north of England and the Borders, we have a dedicated and knowledgeable team who are available to help. For more information about the regulations please contact, Angus Hutchinson, Planning Consultant at H&H Land & Estates on 01228 406260 or at [email protected], Robert Jauneika Associate & Chartered Surveyor, at H&H Land & Estates on 0191 370 8530 or at [email protected].