New Development to Demonstrate ‘Water Neutrality’

Planning

Following on from our note in the last Planning Wise about CDC’s new Nitrate Neutral development policy, we have more news on development requirements, but this time in the north part of Chichester District, Horsham Borough and other authorities within the Sussex North Water Resource Supply Zone.  These areas will now need to demonstrate ‘water neutrality’ in development proposals.  

What is Water Neutrality?

The concept of Water Neutrality, based on its carbon equivalent, implies the process of balancing water usage by introducing measures to reduce water usage and waste at the same time as investing in projects to increase supplies of clean freshwater. It’s about balancing the demand and supply of water through a deliberate intervention by the user or developer.

Evidently, Southern Water provides water to the area with an abstraction licence at Hardham and Natural England has said it cannot be certain what impact this operation is having on the Arun Valley SPA and Pulborough Brooks Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

We understand Southern Water is currently investigating these concerns and to ensure that water supply abstraction does not cause avoidable harm, less water might have to be taken from the Hardham groundwater source inthe future. It has said however, that it does not anticipate making any changes to its abstraction licence until the investigations are complete, which could take between three to five years!

Until then, we understand that ‘water neutrality’ will need to be demonstrated by applicants with a water budget and further testing with aHabitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) in consultation with Natural England.

Potential water mitigation measures (at least within ChichesterDistrict) are likely to include:

·     Limiting water usage to 90L per person per day

·     Low water usage of WCs, showers etc

·     Rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling

However, it is not clear how, even with water saving mitigation measures, full water neutrality can be achieved, and we hope that further advice from Natural England, Southern Water and the relevant affected Districts is provided soon with workable solutions to allow development to continue.    

We will keep you posted.

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