Government has announced a plan to scrap the stranglehold that nutrient neutrality has had on house building. This saw a complete ban on any new housing in wide areas across England. The announcement is great news for builders, not only self builders but for custom build developers who have been impacted.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced a major deregulation of the rules around Nutrient Neutrality which led to 74 councils setting up moratoriums for all new building, following requirements made by Natural England.
Gove commented that cutting the red tape will unblock up to 100,000 stalled homes, which is worth £18 million in activity for the economy.
In the announcement government squarely blames ‘defective’ EU laws for the problem of Nutrient Neutrality, although it was the government quango Natural England that made the requirements that halted building. Most councils enforced a ban in affected areas as not doing so would have left them open to legal challenge.
What is Nutrient Neutrality?
Nutrient Neutrality refers to run off of excessive nutrients from the land, which pollutes water courses and damages river habitats. But new housing is believed to cause minimal additional run off, with farming and out-of-date water treatment plants being the main forces contributing to pollution.
An amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will bring about the announced change, and building could commence immediately on many sites as a considerable number have planning permission in place.
Housebuilders welcomed the announcement, but environmentalists have criticised government for its stance.
However, government also announced new environmental measures to improve habitats and reduce pollution, including more funding for Natural England’s Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, which offsets any negative impact from house building.
Michael Gove MP said: “We are committed to building the homes this country needs and to enhancing our environment. The way EU rules have been applied has held us back. These changes will provide a multi-billion pound boost for the UK economy and see us build more than 100,000 new homes.
“Protecting the environment is paramount which is why the measures we’re announcing today will allow us to go further to protect and restore our precious waterways whilst still building the much-needed homes this country needs.
“We will work closely with environmental agencies and councils as we deliver these changes.”