Pollution

Teesside developments delayed over River Tees pollution worries

The GOVERNMENT has stepped in to prevent future developments from further polluting the River Tees.

Natural England now requires Middlesbrough Council to assess how some new planning projects could affect nutrient levels in the river and ensure new developments are not making the current situation worse. This could lead to delays for new schemes as it will be an extra hoop for developers to jump through.

The implementation of the new rules has led to the cancellation of Middlesbrough’s Planning and Development Committee meeting on Friday, April 8 to allow time for the guidance to be reflected in the proposals.

Full planning applications are expected to be submitted for the new homes that are part of the Stainsby Country Park, the 500 properties at St Hilda’s, and the Taylor Wimpey section of the Nunthorpe Grange development. While it is not clear yet, exactly which proposals will be be affected, they could be expected to mitigate any increase in nitrogen and phosphorus to ensure the schemes are nutrient neutral.

A spokesperson for Middlesbrough Council said: “The impacts of certain developments on the nutrient levels in the River Tees which could affect the special protection area will need to be considered as part of any planning application. As with all applications, a decision is not made until the scheme and its associated impacts have been sufficiently detailed, understood and mitigated where necessary.

“Nutrient neutrality is just another aspect to now consider. It is likely to result in some applications taking longer to determine until this matter has been dealt with. It’s not expected that it would have any notable impacts on hitting housing need/targets.”

The measures have been introduced to prevent further pollution in the River Tees – increased levels of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorous, can speed up the growth of certain plants which can impact wildlife.

Natural England director of sustainable development Melanie Hughes said: “Algal blooms and excessive vegetation growth can kill fish and prevent birds from feeding. These effects also reduce people’s enjoyment of these special places.

“The sources of excess nutrients include sewage treatment works, septic tanks, livestock, arable farming and industrial processes. These are long-running issues spanning decades and will be complex to resolve. However, without resolution of these, we will continue to see a decline in water quality and detrimental effects on our environment.”

The government has pledged a support fund of £100,000 for each catchment area affected by the changes. The cash will be used to hire staff to respond to the challenges of nutrient pollution ensuring that the local authorities are joined up in their approach.

Middlesbrough Council has said it is too early to say whether the government support will be useful in mitigating risks and delays. Stockton Council, Hartlepool Council and Redcar and Cleveland Council have also been affected by the changes.

Last week members of Redcar and Cleveland Council’s regulatory committee were due to consider plans to convert the former Normanby Hotel, in Normanby Road, Middlesbrough, into a mixed-use development involving shops and flats. But the item was unable to be heard and has been put off until a later date.

Last month, the government identified 42 councils that needed to follow the new guidance, in addition to the 32 councils that have been monitored since 2018. Work has already been undertaken in the Solent in the south of England, where 3,000 nutrient-neutral homes have been delivered.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Teesside Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054

About the author

lpnaf

Leave a Comment