29/08/2023 - Once again t he Government are giving in to house builders, please read below and contact your MP.
The government is set to announce plans to change water pollution rules in a bid to enable more houses to be built.Building homes near protected waterways will become easier under the plans, with any environmental damage "more than offset", a government source said.
Ministers could water rules down by adding amendments to the Levelling Up Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords. The Wildlife Trust have accused the government of "disgusting behaviour".The change will lead to "lots more poo in our rivers" and "not solve root causes of housing problem," the CEO of the trust Craig Bennett said. Pollution rules blocking new homes, says minister Water firms accused of covering up sewage figures' We're testing water for our children' Councils in protected areas of England do not currently allow new developments unless they are "nutrient neutral".Housing developments in particular pose a risk due the wastewater and sewage that can come from new homes - as well as the run-off from construction sites.
Builders must prove they will not cause polluting phosphates and nitrates to seep into nearby water for new houses to be deemed neutral. Chemicals like these can reduce the quality of water, harm wildlife and cause excess algae growth. The nutrient neutral rules - which date back to 2017 - were first enacted by the EU to ensure that a development or project does not harm local wetlands and waterways in protected areas.'Fix environmental strategy'
Mr Bennett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the nutrient neutral rules are "very modest" as they "require the housebuilders not to cut pollution, but just to stop it getting worse"."Unfortunately, the housebuilders have been adept over many years at wriggling out of their environmental commitments and they've succeeded yet again," Mr Bennett. But developers have claimed nutrient neutrality rules prevented thousands of homes from being built."This is not a weakening of government environmental regulation, this is trying to fix weak environmental strategy," according to Rico Wojtulewicz, head of policy at the National Federation of Builders and House Builders Association.
If the government wanted to prevent water contamination it "should be tackling farming issues and forcing water companies to invest" rather than restricting housing developments, Mr Wojtulewicz said. A report in the Sun suggested Natural England could start advising councils that the rules are guidance only. "The government remains committed to delivering housing in areas affected by nutrient neutrality," a government spokesperson said."We recognise the urgency of this issue and have taken substantial steps to both unlock housing now and to address the underlying causes of nutrient pollution at source."
Water pollution became a highly politicised issue over the summer, with the Liberal Democrats accusing water firms in England and Wales of failing to reveal how much sewage was being pumped into rivers, lakes and coastlines. Industry body Water UK called the claim "fabricated and completely false", saying firms were fixing the problem.
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