Currently we are dealing with the contentious issue of Water usage within the West Sussex area to provide Water Neutrality Calculations for new planning applications.
The areas in question are the Special Area of Conservation, Ramsar sites and Arun Valley Special Protection area which are being affected by increased ground water abstraction, these areas of interest are being harmed and having a detrimental impact on wildlife hence NAtural England has stepped in ensure no future harm comes to these areas.
The districts affected by this requirement are:
Horsham, Crawley, Chichester and South Downs National Park.
Applicants will need to demonstrate how new projects firstly reduce and reuse there water, then offset any additional water requirement. Any Planning applications which cannot provide any offsetting will be refused as it’s a matter of law based on Natural England’s Statement.
Offsetting must be within the council area in question and may be difficult achieve without a framework of local projects or insight.
Looking at projects within the district, will also be a unknown cost which is difficult for a developer to grasp.
Having been on the planning call today a ‘strategic mitigation strategy between councils and southern water may not be inplace for upto 18months.
So with unknown costs, unknown methodologies and strategic way forward this means that projects won’t get planning and that development in the local area may stall.
Pertinent links to the current guidance and legislation is below
Currently we can calculate water usage and reuse to determine the amount or water used and saved on site, but any offset strategy would have to be looked at on a case by case basis and a strategy put forward, and this project would need to be sourced by others (our clients) until the Councils and Southern Water create there ‘strategic mitigation’.
Also to note is that any offsetting must be undertaken in ‘perpetuity’ and will be legally binding as part of the planning conditions and must be evidenced as completed (probably prior to occupation of your site)
If you are looking to develop in any of the council areas above, I would be cautions until the ‘strategic mitigation’ has been agreed.
None of the above is going to be cheap and none of is is going to go away, good luck out there.