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April 10, 2024

There has been another delay in an update due from the government about nutrient neutrality exemptions, leaving many planning applications for much-needed housing stuck in the system.

Here, our Senior Associate Town Planning Consultant Adam Bennett explains where we are and what to expect going forward.

“We were eagerly anticipating the latest update from the Government on any exemptions to those Waste Water Treatment Works which would be required to be upgraded to the technically achievable treatment limit for phosphates by 2030; as set out within the Levelling up And Regeneration Act (LURA) passed into law on the 26th October 2023, following the Government’s announcement that Poole Harbour, River Avon, River Axe and Somerset Levels and Moors catchments have been designated as nutrient sensitive catchments.

“It was expected the Government’s second announcement in respect of the exemptions would be complete before the 1st of April 2024. A glimmer of light for those with developments stuck in the planning system as a result of the ongoing nutrient neutrality issues.

“We have now been made aware that the expected update from the Government on nutrient neutrality, which locally affects phosphate issues within the Poole Harbour and River Avon catchments particularly, is being delayed until at least 7th May 2024; having originally been expected at the start of this month. The delay is suggested to be as a result of the upcoming local elections on May 2.

“This will once again set back the delivery of much needed housing development that is stuck within the planning system in Dorset Council, BCP Council and the other local authorities’ areas affected by phosphate issues where mitigation schemes have yet to be brought forwards by the public or private sector.

“Dorset Council have specifically been lobbying the Government for the upgrade requirement for phosphorus to apply to all wastewater treatment works that serve 1,000+ population equivalents as this would remove the need for phosphorus mitigation within the Poole Harbour Catchment with a broadbrush. Whether Dorset Council will be successful in this approach remains to be seen and indeed we also expect to hear on this specific issue sometime after the 7th May 2024.

“We will continue to follow progress with the Government’s strategy for resolving the Nutrient Neutrality impasse as it continues to evolve and to keep updating our clients accordingly.”

If you require advice about how this may affect your project or plans, please get in touch with us 01202 538800 and