Nutrient neutrality

On 16 March 2022 we received a letter from Natural England concerning nutrient pollution in the protected habitats of the River Eden Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The letter advised that within identified catchment areas of these protected habitats certain types of new development such as housing have the potential to cause adverse impacts through nutrient pollution.

The Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2017 require local planning authorities to ensure that new development does not cause adverse impacts to protected habitats prior to granting planning permission. As a result, when determining planning applications, we must now ensure that relevant developments within the identified catchment areas do not increase nutrient levels, and such development can only proceed if it can be demonstrated to be ‘nutrient neutral’. Information on how this is to be calculated has been supplied to us by Natural England.

Implications for Planning applications

Whilst we carefully assess the consequences of the guidance, it cannot lawfully conclude that relevant development within the identified catchments of these Special Areas of Conservation will not have an adverse effect. Therefore, until these matters are resolved we will not be able to grant planning permission for current schemes under consideration or for new proposals within the affected catchments.

Types of Development Affected

  • All types of overnight accommodation including new homes, self-catering and serviced tourist accommodation such as hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, self-catering holiday units, static caravan sites, campsites served by on-site toilet or washing facilities.
  • New tourism development likely to increase the number of day visitors to premises.

The requirement to demonstrate nutrient neutrality applies to all types of planning application relating to these types of development, including reserved matters, prior approval and certificates of lawful development for a proposed use or development.

Areas Affected

The areas affected are shown on the relevant catchment maps for each SAC supplied by Natural England:

Eden Nutrient neutrality SSSI catchment areas (PDF: 1,805 Kb / 1 page)

Chief Planner letter: Nutrient pollution: neutrality, support and funding (PDF: 492 Kb / 6 pages)

Nutrient neutrality principles and use of Diffuse Water Pollution Plans (DWPPs) and Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) (PDF: 458 Kb / 5 pages)

Advice for development proposals with the potential to affect water quality resulting in adverse nutrient impacts on habitats sites (PDF: 506 Kb / 25 pages)

Nutrient neutrality: Generic Methodology (PDF: 1,426 Kb / 34 pages)

Nutrient neutrality: A summary guide (PDF: 122 Kb /5 pages)

Nutrient Neutrality budget calculator (Excel document: 2,649 Kb)

River Eden SAC evidence pack (PDF: 672 Kb / 7 pages)

Nutrient Budget Calculator Guidance Document (PDF 560 Kb / 14 pages)

Also see Planning Advisory Service; nutrient neutrality FAQs

Last updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2022.