The River Mease Partnership recognises the catchment needs to be able to grow and thrive both socially and economically. Creating new development which is environmentally sustainable is an essential element in achieving this.
Nutrient pollution, especially phosphates and nitrates, is an urgent problem for our freshwater habitats and rivers, many of which are internationally important for wildlife. We must tackle this pollution to help meet our legal commitments to restore species abundance.
Under the Habitats Regulations, ‘competent authorities’ such as local planning authorities and the Environment Agency must assess the environmental impact of projects and plans (such as planning applications or local plans) which affect habitat sites. Local planning authorities can only approve a project if they are sufficiently certain it will have no negative effect on the site’s condition.
The nutrient load is created by the additional wastewater produced by the assumed increase in people moving into the area.
One way developers can demonstrate that new projects will not cause additional pollution is through ‘nutrient neutrality’. Natural England leads the nutrient mitigation scheme. This scheme is supported by up to £30 million of funding from Defra and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This involves mitigating the ‘nutrient load’ generated by the population growth due to new housing developments. In the River Mease catchment developers need to have nutrient neutrality solutions and work with the River Mease Partnership to identify additional opportunities to reduce or remove phosphate entering the river.
The River Improvement Project will move the River Mease into a more favourable status, enabling Local Planning Authorities to progress their Local Plans and applicants to bring forward development in a more sustainable way.
Further advice and information for new developments is available at North West Leicestershire Council’s website.