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Press Release

28 May 2021

High Court finds Council's approach to mitigating nitrate impacts on The Solent legally sound

Fareham Borough Council is the first Council in South Hampshire to have its approach to safeguarding the environment of The Solent from the effects of nitrates tested in the Courts.

The Government’s advisor for nature conservation, Natural England, has previously highlighted that increased levels of nitrates entering The Solent (for example from increased amounts of wastewater from new dwellings*) is likely to have a significant effect on the marine environment.  Councils must therefore carry out an assessment of the impact and find a way to counter this through mitigation.

Two planning permissions granted by the Council for six dwellings at Greenaway Lane and eight dwellings at Brook Avenue were recently challenged through the Courts.  The main grounds of challenge in both cases related to how the Council had sought to ensure that the developments would not cause adverse harm to the marine environment of The Solent.

Having considered extensive evidence from those bringing the legal challenges, the Council and Natural England, the High Court concluded that the approach taken by the Council to mitigating the effects of nitrates on The Solent was legally sound.

Whilst the High Court upheld the planning permission at Brook Avenue and dismissed the claim in its entirety, the Judge quashed the planning permission at Greenaway Lane on procedural issues**.  The Council is currently considering this element of the judgment***.

Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: ‘As stated previously, protecting the Solent is a priority for the Council whilst accommodating the thousands of houses which the Government has demanded of us.  Fareham Borough Council has worked hard to find an approach which allows new housing development to take place whilst protecting the marine environment of The Solent.  I am pleased that the High Court has agreed that the Council’s approach to mitigating the impacts of nitrates is legally sound.’



* This is because increased nitrates in the water can cause increased growth of plants and algae which, in turn, affects oxygen and light levels within the water, thus affecting other species and habitats.

**  The Judge raised concerns that objectors had not been given sufficient time to consider and comment on information submitted by the applicant relating to the use of the land over the past 10 years. Some documents had not been displayed for the required five clear days.   The Judge was not satisfied that the decision taken by the Planning Committee would inevitably have been the same if objectors had been given the opportunity to fully consider the applicant’s submissions on the use of the land, and make comments upon them.

***  Where planning permissions are quashed by the Courts, the decision maker (in this case Fareham Borough Council) is required to formally reconsider the planning application.


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