Following guidance from Natural England, many property developments have come to a grinding halt to maintain nutrient neutrality, which developers and local authorities (LAs) in the north are not prepared for.
While the guidance from Natural England will ultimately be beneficial to the environment, many LAs do not know where to begin when approached by developers seeking planning permission.
The first guidance for nutrient neutrality was targeted at a plethora of southern councils, as this is where many vulnerable wetlands are located and, therefore, they were the most urgent in terms of combating the issue.
But there are now vulnerable locations in the north that have to achieve nutrient neutrality, despite developers and councils alike having only just become aware of the guidance proposed.
Some developers I have worked with have even approached LAs requesting information on their nutrient neutrality policy, only for the councils to have no idea about the issue.
Consequently, northern LAs are much further behind when it comes to achieving the status, which makes it even more difficult for planning directors when creating proposals, as they do not know what requirements are in place to mitigate the issue of waste water.
Homebuilders and developers need to ensure they know all they need to about nutrient neutrality, specifically in reference to Natural England’s guidance. Ensuring waste management systems are included in every planning proposal is the best place to start, as having an idea of such a procedure in place is better than having none at all.
LAs should look at the examples of southern councils and developments that have given or received planning permission – and review what was requested from the homebuilder.
They may not have had an opportunity to think about it yet, but the government and Natural England’s plans of achieving nutrient neutral sites is here to stay. So, it is important councils do their research to prepare for such planning applications as soon as they can.
Nicola Deutsch is partner in the commercial property team at law firm SAS Daniels