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HBF rail against Lords plans to block relaxation of nutrient neutrality rules

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) have today launched a broadside at both the House of Lords and water companies amid suggestions that the upper house may move to block the government’s plans to relax nutrient neutrality rules.

The HBF cite new research which reveals that house builders have given water companies over £1bn over the past three years to ensure infrastructure is in place to allow the building of new homes, ‘something they have palpably failed to deliver.’

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This comes after the Office for Environmental Protection’s chief executive Dame Glenys Stacey wrote to Environment Secretary Therese Coffey and Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove to say: ‘The proposed changes would demonstrably reduce the level of environmental protection provided for in existing environmental law. Planning authorities would also be required to disregard negative findings concerning such nutrient pollution in any appropriate assessments, and disregard representations from Natural England or others.’

The HBF argue that the effects of housebuilding are greatly overstated and that Defra’s own figures indicate that 60-80% of phosphorus entering rivers comes from a failure of water companies to effectively treat wastewater.

They also point out that Defra also acknowledge that ‘agriculture and wastewater are together the biggest sources of nutrient pollution in the water environment’ 

The proposals to end the ban are threatened by opposition from a small group of Tory Peers including the Duke of Wellington and Lord Blencathra who, HBF point out, ‘also happens to be deputy chairman of Natural England’.

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of HBF said; ‘Despite the fact that new homes make a negligible contribution to the nutrients issue, around 150,000 homes across the country remain on hold. Whilst doing nothing to reduce the disgraceful pollution of our rivers the ban is deepening our housing crisis, reducing economic activity and costing jobs. After four years we need to see politicians delivering a solution to address this damaging ban so desperately needed homes can be built.’

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