The District Councils’ Network (DCN) has stated that it ‘strongly welcomes’ the announcement from government that it will alter legislation around nutrient neutrality.
According to the DCN, the impact of nutrient neutrality and the legislation surrounding it has ‘effectively stopped’ housebuilding in more than a quarter of England, however the government has announced that the rules surrounding the matter will be altered. Through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the government will legislate that Natural England’s rules on nutrient pollution will become advisory, as opposed to mandatory. New funding is also to be made available to boost the Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, whilst tackling the issue of pollution in England’s water.
Whilst the current legislation is there to limit pollution in England’s waterways, there are several local issues that are building up due to the guidance from Natural England, where it may not be necessary. This has seen tens of thousands of homes being inhibited before they can be developed for more than forty councils that are members of the DCN, with the areas affected suffering from reduced numbers of affordable homes as well as up to £10,000 being added onto the cost of new homes. The local supply chain, including bricklayers, roofers, tilers, groundworkers and other related trades have also been impacted.
Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, said:
“Today’s action to tackle the unintended impact of nutrient neutrality rules on local housebuilding is excellent news for district councils. It will unblock tens of thousands of much needed new and affordable homes for more than forty of our member councils. It is good for local residents and good for local jobs. The District Councils’ Network has been calling for the Government to act to take the burden of cleaning up our rivers away from councils. We are pleased that it has listened and found a solution that includes substantial new funding to address the underlying pollution problem. We call on parliament to pass the legislation that will make this a reality.”
Examples of how the current nutrient neutrality rules have affected some councils can be seen in Ashford, Kent and in Eastleigh. In Ashford, 10,000 new homes have had delivery halted, with this impacting the levels of affordable housing being developed, whilst in Eastleigh the council has spent more than £20 million to address the nutrient mitigation issue.
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