In August 2023 the Government announced proposals to make amendments to the Levelling Up Bill which would have removed the requirement for nutrient neutrality mitigation at planning application stage. The amendments were rejected by the House of Lords on 13th September 2023. Whilst Government Ministers have stated that it is their intention to remove the requirement through new primary legislation in the future, in the meantime, until any new legislation is passed, it is "business as usual" in terms of determining planning applications affected by nutrient neutrality.
The Partnership will continue to work towards the aims identified below in order to help developers identify and deliver mitigation solutions. Regular updates on the Partnership's progress will be available to view at the bottom of this page.
A call for potential mitigation sites has commenced, further information can be found here: Call for sites : Lake District National Park
We are a partnership project comprising members from Cumberland Council, Environment Agency, Lake District National Park Authority, Natural England, United Utilities and Westmorland and Furness Council. Our aim is to:
Photo Credits: Photo 1 in slider - Common Hawker C/o Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Photo 3 - Bog Asphodel C/o Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Photo 10 - Derwent Water looking torwards Cat Bells C/o West Cumbria Rivers Trust
Natural England, the organisation tasked with protecting biodiversity and ecosystems in England, is trying to protect freshwater rivers and lakes that are currently in good condition with low levels of nutrients. It is also trying to ensure any rivers and lakes that are currently in a poor condition aren’t made worse through further nutrient pollution.
In 2022 Natural England introduced new guidance in relation to four water catchments in the Lake District (and others across the country), which means new developments must not add any extra nutrients, in particular phosphates, to these catchments.
If a proposed development is going to increase nutrient levels, for example adding new houses to the area, it must have a way of removing the same amount of nutrients from somewhere else in that catchment. This is called nutrient neutrality. The catchment areas that now need Nutrient Neutrality information to be included along with their planning applications are;
Click on the circles below the map to view each of the 4 catchment areas.
Maps produced by Defra Spatial Data Science @Defra 2021, reproduced with the permission of Natural England: http://naturalengland.org.uk/ Copyright Crown Copyright and database rights 2021. Ordnance Survey licence number 100022021.
Nutrient Neutrality information is required before a planning application is validated where the proposed development is in one of the catchment areas. See our Nutrient Neutrality FAQs for further detail.
Supported by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Lake District National Park Authority is working with Cumberland Council, Natural England, The Environment Agency, United Utilities, Westmorland and Furness Council and other partners and local planning authorities to identify and promote strategic mitigation options and solutions across affected catchments. This will support the delivery of Local Planning Authorities’ spatial strategies and enable the unlocking of existing planning applications and future proposals (particularly in respect of housing and tourism provision) without unacceptable impact upon nature conservation interests.
This work will run alongside Natural England's strategic mitigation project until Spring 2025 and;
Ricardo AEA is producing a Nutrient Mitigation Solutions Report. This will, amongst other things, identify the most suitable locations for Nutrient Neutrality mitigation solutions in the four affected Cumbrian catchments. The first draft of the report is anticipated in October 2023.
A Guidance Note for developers along with a list of EA permitted systems will be available here shortly.
Letter from the Chief Planner from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to all planning authorities affected,16 March 2022.