WCC position statement on nitrate neutral development
A position statement on nitrate neutral development was approved by Cabinet on 22 January 2020. The position statement sets out how development proposals should consider the issue.
The situation regarding nitrates is constantly evolving, with a number of mitigation schemes now being brought forward by private land owners, and this is reflected in an update on the council’s approach to the issue which was agreed by Cabinet on 21 July 2021. Developers may be able to achieve nitrate neutrality for their developments by buying nitrate credits from these private landowners. A table of potential schemes in each of the three river catchments across the district is provided in the list of attached documents along with the Cabinet report. In most cases the mitigation scheme will need to be located in the same river catchment as the proposed development although this does not mean that the mitigation scheme has to be in Winchester district.
The council may also acquire nitrate credits itself, or possibly in conjunction with other members of the Partnership for South Hampshire, which will then be offered to developers to purchase which is intended to meet the short term needs of smaller developers in certain parts of the district. This option is not yet available.
The Solent has recognised problems from nitrate enrichment; high levels of nitrogen from human activity and agricultural sources in the catchment have caused excessive growth of green algae (a process called eutrophication) which is having a detrimental impact upon protected habitats and bird species.
As part of the information needed to determine relevant planning applications, a European Site avoidance and mitigation checklist will be required.
All applications and proposed mitigation will still be assessed by the council on a case-by-case basis in consultation with Natural England.
The council, together with other local authorities within the Solent catchment area, will continue to consider and investigate mitigation opportunities whilst discussions will also continue with government agencies and the wastewater industry on addressing the sources of nitrate pollution.