Water Quality Issues in the Solent Catchment Area
The Solent has recognised problems from nitrate enrichment; high levels of nitrogen from human activity and agricultural sources in the catchment have caused excessive growth of green algae (a process called eutrophication) which is having a detrimental impact upon protected habitats and bird species.
At a strategic level, Partnership Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) is developing a strategy to mitigate the impact of additional residents in new housing.
Since mid-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.
Council planners have met with Natural England to discuss short-term measures to enable planning consents to continue to be issued while a more comprehensive and strategic solution is determined. Positive meetings have been held with Natural England and an interim approach agreed that enables the Council to deliver appropriate mitigation.
For all current and new planning applications, planning staff have asked developers to undertake a nutrient budgeting assessment using Natural England’s methodology and work with the Council to seek to remove land from an agricultural use to offset any increase in nitrates as a result of the development.
Adopting this as an interim strategy will allow planning permissions to remain to be issued whilst meeting our obligations under the Habitats Regulations. With mitigation measures in place, the Council will be able to continue to grant planning permissions to ensure we continue to deliver much-needed new homes. Ultimately this issue needs to be dealt with at a government level and the Council will continue to lobby government and work with other Councils, Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) and other outside bodies to find a long term solution to this issue.