THE LOGJAM on new development in the Winchester area should be lifted following a new policy agreed by Winchester City Council.

Many developments were frozen because they breached the control on nitrates getting into watercourses.

Such pollution caused by household wastewater and agricultural fertiliser harms the aquatic environment in the Solent. The aim is for nitrate neutrality.

But now the Cabinet of the city council has agreed a new policy that will allow it to make money by creating habitat that can capture nitrates. That can be turned into revenue from developers who do not have the space to do similar things on their sites.

Cllr Jackie Porter said the council was ahead of others councils in finding a solution: “This decision allows houses to be built and lived in. We are a leader across the county in working to find a solution to this.”

Farms are looking to diversify by creating habitats that can capture nitrates and allow developers to buy ‘nitrate credits’. Last week the Chronicle reported a successful planning application for a nitrates capture scheme at Whitewool Farm near Warnford in the upper Meon Valley.

The chief planning officer Julie Pinnock told Cabinet the authority would be taking an entrepreneurial approach by mitigating on behalf of developers.

The council has its own land that can be used and will work with other landowners.

Cllr Neil Cutler, deputy council leader and also a farmer, said the nitrates causing problems now had been percolating through the ground for 30-40 years. Nitrates use in fertiliser had dropped in recent decades. In recent years much of the area was declared a nitrate vulnerable zone and that restricted the use of nitrates.

He said the bigger issue was the nitrates from sewage which as the population rises will become a bigger issue.

Rob Carter, managing director of Winchester-based developer Millgate, welcomed the decision. He said: “We appreciate how complicated it will be for Winchester City Council to agree the solution with all interested parties but if farm land can be purchased and put in place for mitigation this year then building can restart on stalled sites across the region.

“It is disappointing that national government and the Partnership for South Hampshire have not been able to bring forward a coordinated response for the region and we encourage both to continue to work for a regional solution,” added Mr Carter.

A report will go to Cabinet in 12 months to review the issue.