In July 2020, Natural England issued water quality advice that had an immediate impact on planning applications for new homes located within the Stour Catchment, although it took until late September for Local Authorities to advise on the implications for applications not yet determined.
This area is one of the most important for water dependant wildlife in the United Kingdom.
The Stodmarsh Site of Special Scientific Interest is internationally important for its wildlife and is protected under the Water Environment Regulations and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. Many parts of the floodplain catchment area are also protected.
There are high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous input to this water environment and the evidence is that these nutrients are causing damage.
These nutrients are thought to be caused mostly by wastewater from existing housing and agricultural sources.
As a result of this, the affected Local Authorities have written to agents to advise that they will put a hold on granting permission for certain types of development sites within this area, unless it can be shown that nutrient neutrality can be achieved (which may require appropriate mitigation).
This means that the onus is on the applicant to submit sufficient evidence to demonstrate the impact any new development will have on Stodmarsh to enable the Local Authority to consult Natural England and/or carry out an Appropriate Assessment, prior to any decision being made on the planning application.
The type of planning applications caught by this new guidance are those which result in a net increase in population.
If you are within this area and have residential development planned or underway, this will affect you.
Our planning consultants will be happy to advise you further.