A solution to Nutrient Neutrality may not be far away
A recent statement by Natural England provides hope that a solution to Nutrient Neutrality may not be too far away.
Image credit - Natural England.
Following the Government’s announcement in July 2022, Natural England have released information relating to their nationwide Nutrient Mitigation Scheme. The Scheme will sit alongside the catalogue of mitigation measures being brought forward by Councils and private developers and in Natural England’s words will “help fill the gaps and make finding solutions quicker and simpler”.
Details of Natural England’s approach to mitigation is provided in their recent blog here.
From an initial review, the key takeaway messages are:
- From December 2022, Natural England will approach landowners and invite them to offer their land as potential sites for nutrient mitigation.
- By the end of March 2023, Natural England will formally launch their Scheme, inviting applications from developers to apply for credits and obtaining certificates to reserve credits – this will be open to all developers.
- Developers will need to submit these certificates to Local Planning Authorities as part of the planning process to reserve credits – this will provide reassurance to LPAs that they can satisfy nutrient neutrality and crucially allow the grant of planning permission.
- These certificates will be the ticket to purchase mitigation credits once they become available.
- Our understanding is that once payments have been processed and all mitigation is operational, new homes can be occupied.
- Where demand for credits exceeds supply (which we anticipate will be the situation in many areas), applications will be prioritised to enable construction of the most homes most quickly, to facilitate small and medium enterprises, and to support the delivery of affordable and social housing.
- Planning Practice Guidance will be updated if required to reflect application of Habitat Regulations Assessment.
This appears to be progress in addressing Nutrient Neutrality and enabling development in affected areas to move forward. We await with anticipation the launch of Natural England’s Scheme. However, as ever, a number of big questions still remain, such as how applications/applicants are prioritised where there demand for credits exceeds supply, and how long it will take for mitigation to become operational.