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HomeNewsProposal To Increase Pollution Limits To Help Housebuilding Targets

Proposal To Increase Pollution Limits To Help Housebuilding Targets

The government is set to announce plans to change water pollution rules in an effort to enable more houses to be built in the UK

The current rules say that councils in protected areas of England do not currently allow new developments unless they are “nutrient neutral”.

Ministers are looking to add amendments to the Levelling Up Bill, currently in the House of Lords. The move is likely to enrage environmental campaigners, but a government source said they would “more than offset” any pollution caused.

The nutrient neutral rules – which date back to 2017 – were designed to ensure that a development or project does not harm local wetlands and waterways in protected areas. For new houses to be deemed neutral, builders must prove they will not cause polluting phosphates and nitrates to seep into nearby water. Chemicals like these can reduce the quality of water, harm wildlife and cause excess algae growth.

When the UK was a member of the European Union, it adopted legislation that said adding nutrients to already-damaged soil would be unlawful. But developers have claimed this prevented thousands of homes from being built. Housing developments in particular pose a risk due the wastewater and sewage that can come from new homes – as well as the run-off from construction sites. This can have an effect on local waterways and rivers.

A recent report suggested Natural England could start advising councils that the rules are guidance only.

The government remains committed to delivering housing in areas affected by nutrient neutrality

A government spokesperson said “The government remains committed to delivering housing in areas affected by nutrient neutrality. We recognise the urgency of this issue and have taken substantial steps to both unlock housing now and to address the underlying causes of nutrient pollution at source.”

Water pollution has become a highly politicised issue over the summer, with the Liberal Democrats accusing water firms in England and Wales of failing to reveal how much sewage was being pumped into rivers, lakes and our seas. Industry body Water UK called the claim “fabricated and completely false”, saying firms were fixing the problem.

It follows the recent disgusting news that swimmers in an area of south-east England were advised to stay out of the water at Viking Bay in Broadstairs due to a pollution risk.

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