Important Update - Nutrient Neutrality Guidance


At the end of March 2022, all of the Local Planning Authorities in Cumbria received 'Nutrient Neutrality Notifications' from Natural England in relation to rivers and waterbodies in the catchments of Protected Habitat Sites.

Natural England have issued this advice where Habitats Sites are in an unfavourable conservation status and additional nutrient loads, such as from development, may have an adverse effect. This advises that planning applications and plans affecting habitats sites in an unfavourable condition should be carefully considered and mitigation should be used to ensure there are no adverse effects in order to meet the requirements of the Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2017 (as amended). 

Within Cumbria, the habitat sites include:

  • River Eden SAC
  • River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake SAC
  • River Kent SAC
  • Esthwaite Water Ramsar

What types of Planning Applications are affected?

Nutrient neutrality information is required before an application is validated where a proposed development is within a catchment to which the Natural England nutrient neutrality advice applies (see above) and the scheme is for:

  • New overnight accommodation (including new dwellings, new camping, glamping or caravan pitches served by on-site toilet or washing facilities, or new hotel bedroom accommodation); or
  • New tourism development which is likely to increase the number of day visitors to a premises; or
  • Agricultural development which will result in an increase in stock numbers.

Whilst the Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) assess the implications of these matters, they cannot lawfully conclude that development within the catchment areas affected will not have an adverse effect. Therefore, until these matters are resolved, the LPAs will not be able to grant planning permission for the above types of development.

What happens next?

At present, the Local Planning Authorities are reviewing the guidance, seeking further advice and undergoing new training to be able to deal with these new requirements. As such, most planning authorities have taken the decision to delay determination of any live applications, until they are able to better understand their obligations.

In the meantime, we are advising our clients that any current or future applications for the development types outlined above are likely to be delayed and may result in additional requirements to mitigate any impact. For more information on how this update could affect your development or to discuss nutrient neutrality please contact either Kayleigh or Naomi on 01768 866611 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Wednesday, 17 July 2024