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July 28, 2023

More new housing could become blocked unless green schemes such as ULEZ-style low emission zones are in place at local authority level.

Latest reports in the media – including Planning News, the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, say that Natural England has commissioned a review of ‘mitigation measures’ to limit emissions with new properties in more than 330 designated areas of the country.

It comes after a planning wrangle in Epping Forest, Essex, where the local council has introduced plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) style clean air area from 2025.

The council said it had been advised by Natural England as the responsible statutory body that it wouldn’t be able to approve the new developments unless it also introduced measures to tackle air pollution

Natural England – a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – is also set to examine potential mitigation schemes for developments at more than 330 so-called Natura 2000 sites nationwide.

These sites – including the New Forest – are protected by regulations originally introduced by the EU.

More than 100,000 residential developments are already held up in the planning system due to nutrient neutrality issues.

The latest intervention by Natural England on clean air zones could result in more developments being blocked or even halted before they get out of the starting blocks.

Measures to mitigate the environmental impact are, of course, important – as is a strategic and nuanced approach which allows much-needed new homes to be built while safeguarding the environment.

You can get in touch with us for more information if this issue affects your plans or project.