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Phosphates and Nutrient Neutrality

Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site

Following the release of additional national advice from Natural England on matters relating to nutrient neutrality on the 16th March 2022, a joint statement has been released by the Somerset planning authorities, Wessex Water, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to access this statement and information regarding the Natural England Guidance for March 2022.In August 2020 this Council, along with the other Somerset Council’s as well as Dorset Council received a letter from Natural England concerning high levels of phosphates in the Somerset Levels and Moors and stressing the need to protect them from further phosphate pollution.

Parts of the district fall within the Somerset Levels and Moors which are designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Habitat Regulations 2017 and listed as a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention.

In light of a court Judgement (known as Dutch N), Natural England have advised SSDC that, in light of the unfavourable condition of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site, before determining a planning application/submission that may give rise to additional phosphates within the catchment, competent authorities should undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).

SSDC is taking measures to protect the Somerset Levels and Moors when determining planning submissions following advice from Natural England.

The types of development include:

  • New residential units – including tourist accommodation, gypsy sites /pitches
  • Agricultural Development – additional barns, slurry stores etc. where it is likely to lead to an increase in herd size
  • Tourism attractions with over-night accommodation

This means the Council is currently unable to determine some applications until the impact the development would have on phosphate levels has been addressed.

We will update our website when the position changes and more information can be made available.

Guidance regarding the type of information that is required to accompany any planning application that would be impacted by phosphates (a Nutrient Neutrality and Mitigation Statement) can be found here

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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