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You are here: Home / Latest News

Press Release

26 March 2022

Updated guidance issued by Natural England set to disrupt planning decisions on new housing

Natural England has issued updated guidance about how planning authorities should calculate nitrate mitigation to counter the impact of housing developments on The Solent. The Council was given no advance warning of the updated guidance which takes immediate effect, despite the fact it could delay decisions on planning applications for new housing in the Borough for several months.

On 16  March this year, Natural England published updated guidance for assessing the amount of nitrate mitigation needed in association with new residential development. The updated guidance takes immediate effect on all planning applications for residential developments which the Council is currently considering. The implication of the updated guidance is that many housing developments currently under consideration are likely to need to provide more mitigation than required under Natural England’s previous guidance.

As a result, four planning applications due to be heard at Fareham Borough Council’s Planning Committee on 23 March were withdrawn from the agenda, and all other current planning applications before the Council proposing residential development will need to be re-assessed and the level of nitrate mitigation adjusted as necessary.

The Council’s new Local Plan for the Borough, which sets out the Council’s planning policies and development strategy for the Borough, is at an advanced stage and being examined by an independently appointed Inspector. Whether there are any implications of the updated guidance from Natural England on the Local Plan and its evidence will be considered as part of that examination.

Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr Seán Woodward, said: ‘The Council has always been supportive of actions which protect and enhance the marine environment within The Solent. We take our responsibilities to protect the water environment around the Borough extremely seriously. Balanced alongside this, the Council is required by the Government to make provision for a considerable number of new houses within the Borough over the next 15 years. 

‘This Council has an excellent track record of working with other agencies and private landowners to ensure that a robust system of mitigation has been put in place to mitigate the impact of any nitrates associated with new housing.

‘It is very disappointing that the updated guidance from Natural England was published without prior notice being given to the Council as to its content and the date it would be released. Whilst the Council has a very strong mitigation framework already in place, there will be a short-term delay in making decisions on planning applications for new houses, whilst they are assessed against the updated guidance. I also recognise that it may result in increased mitigation costs.

‘Whilst without mitigation, new houses may lead to increased levels of nitrates entering The Solent, there are other uses of land, such as agriculture, which lead to higher levels of nitrates entering watercourses and ultimately The Solent. The Government clearly needs to work closely with such industries to minimise their use of nitrates and their migration into the wider environment.

‘I am sure that many residents will also be shocked, as I was, at the extent of legal and illegal discharges of sewerage that have been made by water companies into the marine environment. I have previously raised this concern with the Government, and I will continue to do so. I think it is paramount that the Government holds the Water Companies’ ‘feet to the fire’ until they dramatically clean up their act.’


ENDS


Notes to Editor:

In early 2019, the Government’s adviser on nature conservation, Natural England, raised concerns that increased levels of housing across South Hampshire could be harmful to the marine environment.  This was because new housing could lead to increased levels of nitrates entering The Solent, as a result of increased amounts of wastewater.

The Council recognised the gravity of this serious environmental issue and fully supported action to protect the wildlife and habitats within The Solent. Through working closely with other local authorities within the Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH), Natural England and private landowners, Fareham Borough Council ensured that a robust scheme of mitigation was put in place to mitigate the impacts of nitrates within The Solent, associated with new residential development. Whilst the nitrate mitigation proposals were being designed and put in place, the Council was however unable to issue planning permissions for new houses for a period of approximately 18 months. Many authorities within South Hampshire were similarly affected.

About Fareham Borough Council

Fareham Borough Council is a local authority for the area midway between Portsmouth and Southampton. With the town at its centre, the Borough covers the wards of Fareham, Portchester, Stubbington, Hill Head, Titchfield, Park Gate, Warsash, Locks Heath and Sarisbury.

The Council is governed by Councillors from each ward, who work with specific Council departments dealing with a wide range of local services and issues.

Further information about the work to date on nitrates in Fareham is available on the Council’s website at: Position statement (fareham.gov.uk).

For further information contact:

Customer Enquiries

Tel: 01329 236100
Email: customerservicecentre@fareham.gov.uk

Media Enquiries

The Communications Team
Tel: 01329 824310
Email: publicity@fareham.gov.uk
Fax: 01329 550576

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