On March 16, 2022, we received a nutrient neutrality notification from Natural England in relation to the River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The letter advised that within the identified catchment area of this protected habitat site certain types of new development such as housing has the potential to cause adverse impacts through nutrient pollution.
The advice was issued to us without notice and you can read the letter from Natural England here.
The Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2017 (as amended) require local planning authorities to ensure that new development does not cause likely significant impacts to protected habitats prior to granting planning permission. As a result, when determining planning applications, the Council must now ensure that relevant developments within the identified catchment areas do not cause likely significant impacts through increased nutrient levels.
Natural England advice
Natural England have supplied the following advice to the Council on how this is to be calculated:
River Derwent & Bassenthwaite Lake SAC
1. Advice Letter from Natural England
2. Catchment Map
3. Nutrient neutrality summary guide
4. Nutrient neutrality principles
5. Nutrient neutrality generic methodology
6. Nutrient budget calculator (excel spreadsheet)
7. Nutrient neutrality budget calculator guidance
8. River Derwent & Bassenthwaite Lake SAC Catchment Evidence Pack
In Copeland the affected area is limited to parts of the Parishes of Lamplugh, Arlecdon and Rowrah and Distington
The areas affected are shown on the relevant catchment map supplied by Natural England:
Implications for planning applications
The Council is currently carefully assessing the consequences of the guidance on planning applications in consultation with Natural England.
The requirement to demonstrate nutrient neutrality applies to all types of planning application relating to these affected developments, including reserved matters, prior approval and certificates of lawful development for a proposed use or development.
Whilst the consequences of the guidance are being assessed, the Council will likely be unable to approve existing planning applications currently under consideration or any new planning applications within the affected catchments without additional information and/or amendments to development proposals which specifically address nutrient neutrality.
We will contact directly the Applicant/Agents of existing planning applications currently under consideration which are impacted by the guidance.
We will also be updating our validation requirements for new planning applications to ensure that we have the information required when a planning application is submitted.
Guidance on additional planning application validation requirements
When is nutrient neutrality information required before validation?
Nutrient neutrality information is required before an application is validated where a proposed development is within a catchment to which the Natural England nutrient neutrality advice applies (see above) and the scheme is for the types of development listed below:
Types of Development Affected
• New overnight accommodation 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 ; or
• New tourism development which is likely to increase the number of day visitors to a premises; or
• Agricultural development which will result in an increase in stock numbers
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.
What nutrient neutrality information must be provided?
Nutrient neutrality information must include:
• Completed Natural England nutrient neutrality budget calculator for the relevant catchment; and
• Nutrient neutrality mitigation strategy; and
• Shadow habitats regulations assessment
• Evidence that all proposed thresholds for small discharges to ground as set out in Natural England Nutrient Neutrality Advice are met.
Exceptions to nutrient neutrality validation requirement
This validation requirement does not apply to:
1. Development falling within Use Class B2 or B8 (general industrial or uses)
2. Development falling within Use Class E (Commercial, Business and Service)
3. Development falling within Use Class F1(a), (d), (e), or (f)
4. Development falling within Use Class F2(a), (b) or (c)
5.Development changing between one type of tourism accommodation to another without increasing occupancy (e.g. guesthouse to holiday let)
6. Householder development (including ancillary accommodation such as annexes or incidental accommodation such as garden buildings)
Will nutrient neutrality information be needed in other circumstances
Notwithstanding that nutrient neutrality information is not required as part of a valid application, we may still require nutrient neutrality information during the application process, or refuse planning permission in the absence of nutrient neutrality information for developments of the types listed above following case by case assessment.
What is a Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment?
A Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment is an assessment of the impacts of a proposed development in accordance with the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, prepared by a third party, which the Authority may choose to adopt as part of our assessment of an application if we agree with its conclusions.
National Planning Practice Guidance on Habitats Regulations Assessment provides additional information.
Appropriate assessment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)