Nutrient Neutrality

About Nutrient Neutrality

Alongside all other local planning authorities in Norfolk, the council has received a letter dated 16 March 2022 from Natural England concerning nutrient pollution in the protected habitats of the River Wensum Special Area of Conservation and the Broads Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site. The letter advised that new development within, or draining into, the catchment of these habitats comprising overnight accommodation, or any development not involving overnight accommodation but which may have non-sewerage water quality implications, has the potential to cause adverse impacts with regard to nutrient pollution. Such development includes, but is not limited to:

  • New homes
  • Student accommodation
  • Care homes
  • Tourism attractions
  • Tourist accommodation
  • Permitted development (which gives rise to new overnight accommodation) under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015
  • Any development not involving overnight accommodation, but which may have non-sewerage water quality implications.

The Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2017 require local planning authorities to ensure that new development does not cause adverse impacts to the integrity of protected habitats such as the River Wensum or the Broads prior to granting planning permission. At present there are no identified mitigation solutions available locally to resolve these impacts. 

While the council assesses the implications of these matters, it cannot lawfully conclude that development within the catchment of the River Wensum or the Broads Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site will not have an adverse effect. Therefore, until these matters are resolved, the council will not be able to grant planning permission for developments comprising overnight accommodation within the affected catchments.

The council will be working closely with its neighbouring authorities, as well as with Natural England and Anglian Water, to provide a platform which will enable developers to buy credits to mitigate for the impact of nutrients.  At present the joint venture is finalising its details and working with landowners and statutory undertakers to start getting credits in place.  Any mitigation that releases credits need to be localised in relation to the development, in place before any dwellings are occupied, and be in place for at least 80 years.

Unfortunately, at present it is not possible to state how long this may take to resolve. However, the council will keep this webpage up-to-date with more information as it arises.

Last updated: 11/09/2023 16:14:45