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Nutrient Neutrality
We enable your development project to achieve a positive impact on the surrounding water quality – reducing the nutrient load for the benefit of watercourses, wildlife and nature.
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What is Nutrient Neutrality?

“A means of ensuring that development does not add to existing nutrient (nitrogen and/or phosphorus) burdens of the surrounding water environment” - NHS Property Services, 2020.

Nutrient Neutrality is achieved when a developer proves that their development will not increase the amounts of Nitrogen or Phosphorus in a sensitive water environment.  When high levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorous enter a watercourse, they disrupt natural processes and impact wildlife and water quality.  These nutrients come from agricultural activity, sewage and its treatment, septic tanks and industrial processes.

Following a November 2018 ruling in the European Court of Justice, Natural England advised Local Planning Authorities that planning permission should not be granted for a project unless it can prove that it will achieve Nutrient Neutrality.

Nutrient Neutrality must be achieved ‘in perpetuity’, meaning that mitigation must remain in place for 80 to 120 years.

Calculating Nutrient Neutrality

Natural England have created a Nutrient Budget Calculator for each of the catchments subject to Nutrient Neutrality. The calculator compares pre-development baseline conditions with post development plans to determine the amount of nutrients that will be added to the catchment by a development - your ‘nutrient budget’.

If this value is positive, consultation and design update to revise the landscape plans and explore offsite mitigation options will be required until an acceptable nutrient level can be achieved.

If this is not possible, Nutrient Credits may have to be purchased from a strategic mitigation scheme. Currently there are no strategic mitigation schemes set up in the North, but in the Solent, most schemes have been charging between £2,500 and £5,000 per Nutrient Credit for nitrogen.


Strategic offsite mitigation schemes are not currently in place in the North, making Nutrient Neutrality very difficult to achieve. Whilst these schemes are being developed, we can get you Nutrient Neutral Ready by helping you:

  • Understand your nutrient budget
  • Complete a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) screening report if needed for planning validation
  • Assess the water management of your site both during and post-construction
  • Update your landscape plans and review affordable options for onsite reduction/mitigation
  • Implement what you can onsite ASAP
  • Identify relationships and opportunities for offsite mitigation
  • Prepare your report to inform the HRA demonstration of the mitigation that can be achieved to date
  • Aim to reduce your nutrient budget so you can reduce the cost and time required to achieve nutrient neutrality offsite
Group meeting

Want to learn more?

We run a short, informative CPD session, ‘Navigating the Murky Waters of Nutrient Neutrality’ , which is a useful introduction to Nutrient Neutrality and what it will mean for your development.  Get in touch to find out more.

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