Top tips: The need to be neutral

Poor water quality is a major issue across England as nutrient pollution has a detrimental impact on our habitats and wildlife. And with construction projects creating additional water pollution, the issue of nutrient neutrality has become a major sticking point for development across the UK. Here we share our top tips for approaching nutrient neutrality. 

Recording: The Need to be Neutral webinar

In this Leading Minds episode, hear Ola Holmstrom, Director of Hydrology, explore nutrient neutrality, the challenges and implications for developers and the solutions to help keep things moving.

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✔ Top tips

  • Start the assessment process early – Nutrient neutrality (NN) solutions can take a long time to develop and some issues, such as nutrient loading from a site, may benefit from using site specific values. However, such bespoke data sets must be validated and cover longer periods of measurements (often between 6 to 12 months). So starting early is essential.
  • Check groundwater catchments for your site – Many generic assessment tools for NN only provide data on surface water catchments. These are often similar but are rarely exactly the same as groundwater catchments so if you use sustainable  drainage systems (SuDS) discharging to groundwater, you might be caught out late in the planning process unless you take the time to check if the local groundwater catchment actually means that you need to undertake NN assessments.
  • Consider if your NN solution needs any environmental permits – Environmental permits operate outside the normal planning process and just because you gain planning permission for a site, this doesn't mean that you'll get the environmental permit for your proposed NN activity. In the worst case, this can lead to a planning permission that cannot be implemented.
  • Think holistic solutions – Many initiatives that will provide you with a solution to your NN issues can also be adapted to provide additional benefit, such as carbon offsetting or biodiversity net gain (BNG) credits. The multipurpose solutions can often tip the design from commercially challenging to cost effective - there may even be credits left over that you could sell on.
  • Make space for water – Having enough space for a comprehensive water mitigation strategy will help to get the development proposal through the planning process.

× Things to avoid

  • Don’t be discouraged - NN is a developing area of assessment, if you can’t find a good solution at this point in time it's not unreasonable to expect something will become available next month.
  • Avoid fixing masterplans too early on – NN solutions typically have many moving parts and it's likely that the land take solution for your site will have to change as the NN is explored and defined. Avoiding trying to retrofit a solution will prevent you having to rely on costly workarounds.
  • Don’t dismiss opportunities for collaboration – The issue of NN is likely to impact several sites in the area you are looking to develop and as NN solutions as a rule always fall under the benefit of scale, a collaborative solution may save you both time and money.  

Leading Minds Webinar Programme

Now entering its third year, our Leading Minds webinar series is hosted by technical experts from a variety of disciplines across our business. Each episode aims to guide you through legislative challenges, development risks and sustainable solutions to maximise the profitability of current and upcoming schemes. Whether you want to register for our upcoming webinars, or flick back through our catologue of previous webinar recordings and top tips, find out more below.

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Ola Holmstrom

Ola Holmstrom

Senior Director - Hydrology T: +44 1454 853 000 Email
Bristol | UK

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