New opportunities for developers in the Tees catchment to unlock new housing whilst protecting the environment are now available, Natural England has announced.

The third round of credit sales under the national Nutrient Mitigation Scheme will enable development to take place by supporting efforts to reduce nutrient pollution across freshwater sites.

Excess nitrate and phosphate pollution from livestock farming, sewage treatment works and septic tanks causes serious damage to waterways, negatively impacting wildlife and the quality of life for those who live nearby.

LIS Show – MPU

Wastewater from new developments exacerbates this issue, placing additional pressure on fragile freshwater ecosystems, but if development takes place alongside suitable mitigation, the additional damage can be avoided.

Developers in the Tees catchment will be able to purchase credits to offset the impact of development and create new areas for wildlife, such as wetlands.

Previous rounds of credits unlocked 3,500 homes, with credits sourced for another 4,500 homes before April 2024 which has seen over 260 hectares – or 184 football pitches – created for wildlife.

Marian Spain, Chief Executive at Natural England, said:

This next tranche of credits provides the certainty needed to enable homes to be built while protecting a wide variety of internationally important species including wading birds, insects and special plants.

If we are to meet our legally binding obligations to halt the decline in nature, it is vital we take concerted action to protect these habitats with all sectors needing to reduce their impact to help protect the environment.

We will continue to work with government to deliver practical solutions that help nature recovery.”

The Nutrient Mitigation Scheme, first announced in July 2022, is led by Natural England in partnership with Defra and DLUHC.

The scheme is being supported by up to £30 million investment from the government to speed up delivery.

Since being directed by the government to create the mitigation scheme in July 2022, Natural England has so far provided advice and the provision of credits to other enabled mitigation schemes which, in total, will allow over 50,000 homes to be built.

This has enabled local authorities and developers to bring forward the housing that is right for their area, while protecting fragile rivers, lakes, estuaries and wildlife from any further damage as the result of nutrient pollution.

The government has said that in the near term, it is important that planning decision-making continues in the areas affected on the basis of the current legal framework meaning that where mitigation is available, local authorities and developers should seek to progress sites.

Work continues to identify future sites which will be suitable for mitigation schemes to drive nature recovery while providing the homes the country needs.

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