When in a hole shouldn’t you stop digging?  - the latest Government release on nutrient neutrality.

12 September 2023

It seems from the latest announcement released at 3pm today that the Government is doubling down on the amendment that will impose an obligation on local authorities to ignore nitrate and phosphate pollution caused by building new houses.  Some of the contents of the latest press release would be laughable if it were not so serious. 

"It is however clear from listening to the concerns of local communities, local authorities and housebuilders that while a positive development, mitigation schemes are moving too slowly, with no guarantee that demand can be met imminently. The existing approach also does not take account of the fact that new homes will not contribute any additional nutrient outflow until they are not just built but occupied." 

Where is the Ministry of Truth when you need it!

The Habitats Directive will remain in force and local authorities, and, in all  probability the Government as well, will find themselves facing Habitats Directive litigation if the amendment is passed. 

Whether the Lords rejects the amendment remains to be seen but the following quote from Lord Blencathra (a Conservative and former Minister and currently the Deputy Chair of Natural England) in the House of Lords debate last Wednesday (the 6th day of debate) gives a flavour of the depth of feeling.

"I hope they have not been lobbied by the Home Builders Federation—the organisation which lied, lied and lied again about the Government blocking the building of 145,000 homes because of nutrient neutrality. That was totally untrue. Of course, housebuilders are sitting on more than 1 million planning applications and are land-banking until they can release them gradually and make maximum profits. If that is legitimate, so be it, but let us not let them attack the Government for holding up housebuilding when it is not the Government doing it."

As I said in my previous article, all the Government has done so far is create more uncertainty.  Their latest press release does nothing to remove the uncertainty.

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