Developers working in the Mease

Development in the River Mease catchment must be carefully managed to ensure that increased levels of phosphorus do not enter the watercourse due to changes or additions to foul water or surface water drainage, in order to protect the River Mease SAC and SSSI.

Some new development in the River Mease catchment will require mitigation measures to offset the impact on the River Mease from an increase in foul drainage discharge, which would need to be provided at a cost to the developer. The organisations involved in monitoring and enhancing the River Mease understand that development within the catchment is often necessary, and therefore we are keen to work with developers to achieve solutions that both enable development but ensure no detrimental impact upon the River Mease.

Mitigation measures were previously secured by contributions under the River Mease Developer Contributions Schemes (DCS 1 and 2), where funding from development fed into mitigation projects throughout the River Mease catchment. However the available capacity within these two Developer Contributions Schemes has been used up.

What Nutrient Neutrality means for developers in the Mease catchment

In March 2022 the local planning authorities received advice from Natural England which confirmed that new development involving overnight accommodation can only now proceed if it achieves ‘nutrient neutrality’.

Nutrient neutrality is a means of ensuring that a development plan or project does not add to existing nutrient burdens within catchments, so there is no net increase in nutrients as a result of the plan or project.

Therefore all new developments involving overnight accommodation (including but not limited to new homes, care homes, tourism accommodation) in the River Mease catchment require nutrient neutrality mitigation measures. This does not include householder developments, e.g. extensions to dwellings, domestic outbuildings.

  • Some forms of new development not involving overnight accommodation may also require nutrient neutrality mitigation measures.
  • The implication of the advice from Natural England is that the local planning authorities (LPAs) in the River Mease catchment cannot approve developments in the SAC catchment area that would increase foul drainage discharge to the mains sewer from sites comprising overnight accommodation system without nutrient neutrality mitigation measures in place.
  • A nutrient neutrality approach is now being rolled out across the Mease catchment to identify possible options for mitigation to ensure sustainable development can proceed, possibly in the form of a third Developer Contribution Scheme. Unfortunately, it is not possible to state how long this may take to resolve. It may be possible for developers to provide their own bespoke nutrient neutrality mitigation measures, e.g. on or off-site constructed wetlands.
  • The Nutrient Budget calculator (see link below) provided by Natural England is the first step to understanding the nutrient load of a development. It can help identify whether a proposal is likely to add to the nutrient load within the catchment and require mitigation or whether the development can be considered nutrient neutral. In the latter case, where development is nutrient neutral, subject to confirmation from Natural England, such developments can likely be approved without mitigation. Natural England has also provided a guidance document (see below) to help with the completion of the calculator.


River Mease Calculator Final

The guidance for calculating a nutrient neutrality budget is available on this link.

Nutrient Budget Calculator Guidance Document_River Mease_Provisional Issue 1

Below are links to the key guidance documents:

Nutrient Neutrality Generic Methodology
Natural England Water Quality and Nutrient Neutrality Advice (16 March 2022)
Nutrient Neutrality Principles
Nutrient Neutrality: A summary guide and frequently asked questions
River Mease Special Area of Conservation – Evidence Pack (includes map)

More information in respect of the River Mease and nutrient neutrality can be found here – River Mease Special Area of Conservation – North West Leicestershire District Council. Natural England have provided a standard advice document to help guide developers in how to approach new development in the catchment of the River Mease, available here.

Get in touch with Local Planning Authorities

Developers are strongly advised to engage early with the relevant Local Planning Authority to discuss plans for development and the potential requirements for mitigation, before progressing with plans.

Please note that if you are considering a proposal for development of a site in the River Mease SAC catchment (other than householder developments) in North West Leicestershire, then in order to obtain pre-application advice on how nutrient neutrality and other planning matters would affect your proposal, the Council offers a pre-application advice service for which a fee is payable:

Email addresses for each planning authority that covers the Mease catchment are below.

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]