Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Solent nitrates water pollution mitigation agreed

algae near Portchester Image copyright Ian Knight
Image caption Natural England said high levels of nitrogen pollution were affecting The Solent area

Proposals to cut pollution which halted house building around The Solent have been agreed by councillors.

Fareham is one of five councils to accept Natural England advice to refuse new developments amid concerns over nitrate levels in the water.

Councillors agreed a series of interim measures, including improving water efficiency in existing council homes, to allow some development to go ahead.

The proposals are a short-term measure while a long-term solution is found.

Fareham Borough Council's executive also agreed to use developer contributions to create wetlands to strip nitrogen from the water, help manage agricultural land to reduce fertiliser use and improve the wastewater treatment works at Peel Common.

Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and East Hampshire have all put developments on hold after nitrogen from housing wastewater and agricultural sources accelerated the growth of algae which is damaging protected wildlife habitats and bird species.

Fareham said it still had a duty to deliver houses and would issue planning permission with the condition that homes could not be occupied until the mitigation measures were agreed.

Leader Sean Woodward said: "Whilst our number one priority is of course to protect The Solent, the nitrates issue continues to be a real challenge.

"One side of government is telling us that any new housing will be damaging to the environment whilst another is demanding delivery of thousands of new homes."

Last month Portsmouth City Council said it was considering a raft of measures including the introduction of oyster beds to reduce nitrogen in the water.

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