Eastleigh Borough Council has, to date, purchased eight areas of farming land across the borough totalling 194 acres to help protect the Solent by offsetting the nitrate impact of development on this internationally important wildlife area.
The Solent is being affected by nitrate enrichment. This is when high levels of nitrogen from human activity and agricultural sources in the catchment cause excessive growth of green algae which in turn has a detrimental impact upon protected habitats and bird species.
Since April 2019 Natural England (NE) have required developers in south Hampshire including the Borough of Eastleigh to quantify the nitrate level of their development and mitigate any increase in nitrates compared to the existing land use.
The eight parcels of agricultural land are located in Eastleigh, Bishopstoke, Horton Heath and Botley and by removing this land from agricultural use it can be used to offset any increase in nitrates as a result of future development. The land can also be used for other environmentally friendly uses.
The Council can use this land to charge developers nitrate credits for each of their properties as a mechanism to mitigate any increase in nitrates arising from their developments.
Council Leader Keith House said, “The Solent water environment is internationally protected and important for wildlife. Taking farmland out of grazing use helps achieve nutrient neutrality and by bringing it into public ownership protects it from development as green lungs between our towns and villages. Future use for these sites can include natural meadows and wetlands, and walking areas for residents.”