Announcing itself ‘open for business’ to housing developers, Havant Borough Council have validated its nutrient mitigation schemes.
In 2019 Natural England called for new measures to prevent pollution in the Solent, restricting house-building in Havant and the neighbouring boroughs of Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and East Hampshire. Everything then stopped in March of this year when Natural England changed the rules as to how nutrient neutrality is measured.
Freshwater habitats and estuaries create nutrient pollution and increased levels of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus which can speed up the growth of certain plants and disrupt natural processes, therefore impacting wildlife. This process causes damage to water dependent sites which then harm plants and wildlife also affecting the oxygen carrying capacity of the water. The main sources of excess nutrients are mainly wastewater treatment works and agricultural pollution.
In March when the rules changed all housing development stopped until nutrient loads from new housing could be shown to be offset. New rules from Natural England means that any new development is measured against a nutrient budget resulting therefore in new research.
The relevant studies needed to make way for development have now been completed by Havant Borough Council. A study of its nutrient mitigation scheme at Warblington Farm Nature Reserve has validated its capability to provide a valuable mitigation resource.
Further consultation with neighbouring local authorities to address how to create a relationship with Natural England to help avoid the risk of unexpected changes to the guidance is also planned.
Leader of Havant Borough Council, Councillor Alex Rennie said: “I am pleased that the block on housing development has been removed and appreciate the important work that has been necessary to achieve this goal. The effect of the changes by Natural England caused unecessary pressure on the council, residents and developers. I look forward to finding a way of working with Natural England in the future to ensure we can continue to develop housisng in an environmentally aware way”.