The Advice from Natural England could mean some unwelcome delays, as well as further costs, for developments in specific identified areas within the Stour Valley (the ‘Stodmarsh Designated Sites’).
The Advice encourages Local Authorities to undertake a nutrient neutrality approach (“the methodology”). This includes a nutrient budget which aims to provide sufficient and reasonable certainty that any new development will not adversely affect the integrity of the Stodmarsh Designated Sites.
Any development where there will be inevitable wastewater implications, i.e. where there will be a net increase in population served by a wastewater system, will be subject to the methodology and includes new homes schemes, student accommodation, tourism attractions and tourist accommodation.
Local Authorities are being asked to take a precautionary approach to the methodology which is to be tested through the ‘appropriate assessment’ stage of the Habitats Regulations.
Broadly, the Stodmarsh Designated Sites cover:
- Little Stour and Wingham (Elham, Bridge, Aylesham, Wingham and surrounding)
- Lower Stour (Chilham, Chartham, Canterbury and surrounding);
- Upper Stour (Ashford and surrounding)
- Part of the Kent East Coast;
- Part of the Oyster Coast Brooks; and
- Part of the Stour Marches.
The Advice is not limited to developments which are inside the Stodmarsh Designated Sites. Any developments outside of the Sites, but which may drain to Waste Water Treatment Works (WwTW) within the Sites, will also be subject to the methodology albeit to a lesser extent.
Read the full Advice on the practical methodology for calculating how nutrient neutrality can be achieved in these Designated Sites here.