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Sewage: Rivers and Seas and Oceans

Question for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

UIN 125127, tabled on 18 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether the nutrient neutrality policies of the local planning authorities around the Solent assist Southern Water in its efforts to control the effect of discharges of sewage into rivers and the sea.

Answered on

28 February 2022

Nutrient Neutrality, through the provision of mitigation, ensures that development does not contribute additional nutrient loads to the Solent catchment, avoiding additional harm and so adverse effects to habitats sites.

My department and DEFRA have established a cross-Government task force to tackle nutrient pollution and enable development to continue. The cross-Government taskforce continues to identify the range of options in the short, medium and long term. Defra having recently published the Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat, making clear that Ofwat and water companies should consider nutrients pollution in line with their environmental duties, which include duties under the Habitat Regulations; working with wider stakeholders to support efforts to tackle nutrients pollution.

Defra together with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and the Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH) are working with EnTrade to develop a nutrient trading pilot project in the Solent region. The project aims to connect developers, who need to offset pollution from new developments, with landowners willing to undertake land use change to reduce pollution. This will help to unblock housing delivery whilst avoiding further harm to important protected wildlife sites and delivering wider environmental benefits.