The River Itchen is an internationally and nationally protected environmental area.
The SGO is located approximately 1 kilometre from the River Itchen and includes a link road which crosses it.
The Local Plan’s evidence includes a habitats assessment, and supporting studies on hydrology, air quality, the southern damselfly, and the replacement bridge across the Itchen navigation.
The habitats assessment has been prepared in accordance with the habitat regulations. The assessment concludes that there will be no adverse impact on the River Itchen, in some cases provided that mitigation measures are put in place. Natural England (the Government’s specialist advisors) agreed with the conclusions of the assessment undertaken in June 2018 and identified outstanding issues which the Council has since addressed in its updates undertaken in October 2018 and June 2019.
The mitigation measures include for example construction techniques, sustainable drainage, open space buffers, and waste water treatment work upgrades. The measures also include the careful design of the replacement bridge across the Itchen navigation, which will provide an environmental improvement compared to the existing bridge.
Natural England, the Environment Agency and other organisations have raised a number of issues regarding how the Local Plan should protect the environment. As a result, the Council has proposed to the Planning Inspector modifications to the Local Plan to further strengthen the protection of the environment and ensure that mitigation measures are provided alongside new development, including the SGO.