Planning for Natura 2000 sites: lessons in nutrient neutrality

We hosted two events in July 2021 to examine the challenge of nutrient pollution, looking at how to manage nutrient neutrality and minimise the risk of this occuring.


Several authorities around Natura 2000 sites have received guidance from Natural England declaring the sites to be in an “unfavourable condition” from Nitrate or Phosphate pollution. Authorities in these areas are required to halt housing development until a way can be found of ensuring that new schemes do not contribute to the problem and are "nutrient neutral".

With the support of Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency, particpants examined the challenges and issues raised for planning:

  • An introductory presentation from colleagues in Defra set out the context and issues raised by nutrient pollutoon.
  • A presentation from Natural England explained the legal context, role of accountable authorities and scale of the challenge, with advice for planning authorities in affected areas. 
  • The Environment Agency explained their role in protecting European sites and granting permits for discharges to the water environment.

Participants also gained a valuable insight into the practicalities of dealing with nutrient neutrality from the local authority perspective, with presentations from expeienced planners working on solutions in the Solent, Somerset and Stodmarsh areas.

These workshops are part of a wider PAS project to explore the issues raised by nutrient pollution. hear from planners in affected areas and identify lessons learned. As experience is gained, we will look at the approaches that are being developed to identify solutions and plan for the natural environmental more widely.