Alongside all other local planning authorities in Norfolk, South Norfolk and Broadland Councils have received a letter dated 16 March 2022 from Natural England concerning nutrient pollution in the protected habitats of the River Wensum Special Area of Conservation and the Broads Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site. The letter advised that new development comprising overnight accommodation such as new housing development within the catchment of these habitats has the potential to cause adverse impacts with regard to 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 such as the Broads prior to granting planning permission. At present there are no mitigation solutions available locally to resolve these impacts. 

Whilst the Council assesses the implications of these matters, it cannot lawfully conclude that development within the catchment of the Broads Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site will not have an adverse effect. Therefore, until these matters are resolved the Council will not be able to grant planning permission for developments comprising overnight accommodation within the affected catchment.

In July, the Government issued further information about Nutrient Neutrality and steps to be taken to assist with the delivery of mitigation schemes to help enable development to proceed. Mitigation schemes within the affected areas will be necessary to enable further development such as housing growth to be permitted. 

Written Ministerial Statement made by George Eustice (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) was issued on 20 July 2022 

This sets out that the government will: 

  • place a legal duty on water companies to upgrade wastewater treatment works by 2030 in nutrient neutrality areas 
  • require Natural England to establish and deliver a Nutrient Mitigation Scheme 

The government advice was followed by a letter about nutrient neutrality and habitats regulations assessment from Joanna Averley (Chief Planner) issued 21 July 2022. 

Further advice and the details from Natural England can be seen on the page How to apply for planning permission.