WINCHESTER developers have been heartened by the response of civic chiefs to the issue of planning permissions being blocked by environmental restrictions.

For several months plans have been put on hold by the city council taking the advice of Natural England over pollution into the Solent.

The advice to planners was that any scheme that could not prove 'nitrate neutrality' would add to the problem of nitrates in rivers and the Solent.

Environmentalists are concerned about nitrates, from household waste and fertilisers, cause eutrophication which leads to excessive build-up of algae, harming protected habitats and birds.

Now the city council has taken steps to unblock the logjam.

Cllr Jackie Porter told Cabinet last Wednesday that a new 'position statement' aimed to satisfy developers whilst protecting the environment.

She said the council will develop a means of mitigation which will allow applicants to mitigate the nitrogen load of their development. This will most likely involve a developer making a

financial contribution to an off-site scheme provided by the Council.

It will continue to work with Natural England in relation to the impact of development in the district and its effect on nitrate levels in the relevant parts of the Solent.

The council recently declared a Climate Emergency and it will be a priority at the heart of the civic strategy.

Rob Carter, managing director, of Millgate (Winchester) was at the Cabinet meeting. He told the Chronicle: "It was a very encouraging cabinet meeting and it is clear that the city council now fully appreciate the magnitude of the situation facing the construction industry in our area. The council have proposed a number of actions to help address the problem and recognise the time pressure to put in place a mitigation solution.

"Cllr Jackie Porter and Julie Pinnock (Service Lead - Built Environment) have lead the council's actions on Nitrates and their work is appreciated. Cllr Porter spoke with authority and understanding about the issue and the challenges the council will face.

"There are significant changes facing construction in the near future. As well as nitrates in the Solent, the requirement for Biodiversity Net Gain will be in place by the end of this year which will result in further work for the local planning authorities and housebuilders, but with the exciting potential to improve the countryside around as a direct result of house building in our urban areas.

"The development community in Winchester look forward to assisting the council in this challenge. It is a steep learning curve for all of us but it is exactly the challenge all individuals and business must face up to if we are to respond to the Climate Change Emergency."