Cash for Nitrates?

July 19, 2019

At June's Havant Borough Cabinet Meeting it was proposed to send a letter to Government Ministers requesting urgent consideration of the damaging effect on "small and medium sized builders" resulting from the current moratorium on particularly the UK's south coast building developments as a result of recent Dutch Case Law C-293/17 and C-294/17 concerning the already well publicised concerns regarding excess Nitrate contamination of our local waters.  Various online references include the following but please note that this particular onine summary link does not cover any other, independent research into the real differences between current agricultural nitrogen deposits and current housebuilding nitrogen deposits; it is vital that such research is made public before long term decisions are made.

https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/client-resources/legal-updates/nitrate-pollution-concerns-halt-housebuilding.aspx

 

Our HBC Councillors & East Hants District Council collaboratively agreed to & submitted a letter dated May 28th 2019 to: James Brokenshire MP Sec. of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government;  Kit Malthouse MP, Minister of State for Housing; Michael Gove MP, Sec. of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Therese Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, with reply to Mr. David Haywood, HBC Planning Officer. david.haywood@havant.gov.uk

Re: Nutrient Neutrality & the Impact on Housebuilding in Havant Borough & across South Hampshire.  Please note that, whilst this letter was available and viewed by one of HIRA's Committee members attending the Cabinet Meeting, we have since been unable to locate it online.


In summation, both Councils urge the Government to act "swiftly" so as to enable them to "not only meet but to exceed the Government's identified housing need for the Authority".  Their rationale that they use are: 

- that work for builders is "drying up"; 

- "the majority of nitrogen deposition into the harbour is from agricultural practices or background nitrogen, the source of which is not known" - [Our note: but no evidence is provided in the letter for either of these statements, particularly as they apply in recent years and now];

- the Authorities are "duty bound to follow Natural England's advice that new development would decrease water quality" and they add that this is of particular relevance given our SPA, RAMSAR and Sites of Area of Conservation in the Solent, and developments are subject to Regulation 63 (1) of the Conservation of Habitats and Special Regulations 2017;

- "only nutrient neutral development is permissible, which is an impossible target for all but a handful of schemes";

- they add that it would be "counter-intuitive" to remove agricultural land elsewhere as mitigation for building development nitrate effect, given the need for "food security" in our country plus that this is not "environmentally holistic".

 

Therefore the letter to the Government urges Ministers to provide one of two solutions:

1) Change the regulation, reverting the UK to consider/assess water as it had been up to November 2018 and this would likely be within the Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit Regulations 2019 draft legislation);

2) Government can provide "mitigation banking" in the short term eg via Homes England, through legal agreement, thus enabling Authorities to make, for example, improvements to such infrastructure as Southern Water Waste treatment.

 

In conclusion we await news as to the Government Ministers' response to this letter from Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council.



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