Eastleigh Borough Council has agreed an interim plan to allow developers to address the environmental impacts of phosphates arising from new development within, and draining into Wastewater Treatment Works in, the River Itchen Special Area of Conservation (SAC) catchment area.
An Interim Phosphate Mitigation Strategy that allows developers to purchase credits at a cost of £4,500 + VAT per dwelling has been agreed. Funding for a feasibility study, to be funded from revenue income from the sale of phosphate credits has also been agreed with the aim of creating new wetlands on Council-owned land as a longer-term strategy.
Waste water from new homes, and water run-off from some agricultural land, contain nutrients like nitrates and phosphates. These nutrients can enter ecologically sensitive waterways and disrupt aquatic ecosystems.
The Council has an established nutrient neutrality mitigation scheme to address the impact of nitrates generated from the wastewater from new housing development and development that generates overnight accommodation in the Solent catchment.
Natural England’s updated guidance advises that mitigation is now also required to address the impact of phosphates in the River Itchen catchment area. The Habitats Regulations place the responsibility on the Council to ensure that when permitting new residential development and development that provides for overnight accommodation, that there is no net increase in phosphates reaching the internationally designated River Itchen ensuring phosphate neutrality is maintained.
Cabinet Lead for the Environment Cllr Rupert Kyrle said, “I’m pleased to see this Interim Phosphate Mitigation Strategy developed to avoid “loading” additional phosphates into the river and to enable planning permissions to be granted. It will be reviewed in six months and will be in place until a longer term solution is developed. The Interim Strategy has three main strands including the use of on-site Sustainable Drainage Systems, sale of phosphate credits from land taken out of agricultural use, using the Council’s strategic land acquisitions and future sale of credits from the creation of new wetlands.”