Agenda item

Planning Portfolio Holder presentation

To receive a presentation by the Planning Portfolio Holder on nitrate neutrality and the management of planning applications (30 minutes)


The Planning Portfolio Holder gave a presentation on nutrient neutrality including its impact on determining planning applications and managing the process of them being considered at Committee once the nutrient neutrality issue has been resolved.


Nearly all Local Authorities in Hampshire have to mitigate the additional nitrate produced in wastewater against every house that is built.  Until that is resolved there are a number of dwelling houses on hold totalling 222 in the north of the borough and 247 in the south of the borough. The Council will need to find an estimated 806kg of nitrogen credit in the north and 709kg for the south in order to free up the housing currently on hold in the system. The inability to process planning applications is having an effect on the housing land supply and planning income.


The Council are currently investigating a number of land based solutions either land or nitrate credit purchase


The Council are also lobbying as widely as possible to put in place permits at waste water treatment plants away from the coast not currently having a permit limit for nitrate discharge. The Environment Agency will undertake a permit review to look at placing limits on a measurement of nitrogen released. However it may take a number of years before the outcome of the permit review is known and additional measure to reduce nitrogen discharges are in place. The Council are talking to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, MPs and Government Ministers to explain that if planning permissions are held up there is a potential danger that Council’s won’t meet the 5 year housing supply.


There are 93 planning applications in system. The Council are making sure that the necessary legal and procedural processes to deal with mitigation are in place ready for when a mitigation solution can be implemented.  It is anticipated that there will a small number of committees. There are also contingency resources ready to help the planning team if there is a rush of applications.


Members discussed:


·  25% of nitrate comes from households, 66% from agriculture.

·  Research ongoing to see what level of nitrogen would be acceptable and what the levels are in different parts of the Solet and what is changing.

·  Nitrate currently in the system was produced in the 1970s and 1980s.

·  The amount of land required to offset the current 93 planning applications currently in the system would depend on what land was previously used for.

·  Legislation states that unless scientific evidence is that it isn’t causing a problem then we have to assume it does and therefore have to mitigate against it. Mitigation has to be within the catchment of the River Test, River Itchen or Barley Water in the New Forest.

·  Nutrient neutrality does not affect past applications unless they change their planning permissions.

·  Liaising nationally and talking to other Local Authorities about other challenges they are facing and what they are doing to address them.

·  Hope to have a scheme in place by early summer.

·  Estimate Carbon capture.

·  The Environment Agency have the power to police Southern Water to ensure they put measures in place to mitigate nitrate.  The Environment Agency will carry out an immediate assessment of water treatment plants that do not currently have measurements taking place.  It is anticipated that this work will be completed by 2023/24.

·  Have engaged with farming and land owner organisations such as the CLA and NFU and involved in discussions with DEFRA.  Will look at engaging with LEAF (Linking the Environment and Farming).


The Chairman thanked the Planning Portfolio Holder for his presentation.