The Government will rip up legacy EU anti-pollution laws to kick start the building of over 100,000 homes, Michael Gove has announced.
The Levelling Up Secretary has claimed that cutting “red tape” on nutrient neutrality, which ensures developments do not pollute the environment with excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, will unlock thousands of planned houses.
These nutrients feed algae and starve the rivers of oxygen, affecting local wildlife populations.
Since 2017, rules to offset excess nutrients have had an impact on housing developments, but have not applied to farms which produce similar nutrient pollution via slurry run-off.
But environmental groups are warning that the measure risks adding to the pollution of the UK’s waterways.
Changes to the law to remove the legacy EU rules will be tabled in the Lords on Tuesday, and ministers believe it will lead to 100,000 new homes but 2030 and an £18bn boost to the economy.
To offset the excess nutrients and ensure further protection for the UK’s waterways, the Government has pledged to expand the number of protected sites, increase farm inspections to prevent slurry pollution and invest £200m in slurry storage.
Investment in Natural England’s nutrient mitigation scheme will also be doubled to £280m to ensure excess pollution is offset.
The additional £140m for Natural England to go towards nutrient offsetting will be funded by the taxpayer, rather than the developers causing the pollution.
Mr Gove said the legacy EU rules have “held us back” from building more homes.
He also insisted that “protecting the environment is paramount” and the measures announced today will help “protect and restore our precious waterways”.
However, it comes with the Government under fire over sewage pollution in British rivers and seas.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.