A new trial in Hampshire aiming to reduce nitrate levels in the Solent has been welcomed by Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely.
The government-backed trial seeks to address the issue of nitrate pollution – caused in part by developers as they disturb nitrogen-rich soil. Nitrogen entering watercourses and ultimately the Solent is linked to the pollution of important marine sites and is an issue of long-standing concern for Bob and local environmental agencies.
Now, the new scheme should mitigate new pollution entering the Solent from housing developments by ensuring developers implement measures designed to remove, capture, or absorb nitrates prior them reaching the sea.
The trial will also create a nutrient trading process where developers needing nitrogen mitigation solutions can connect online with land managers able to provide such solutions. Developers can also buy nitrogen credits to offset the nutrient footprint of new homes. These credits can then be used to create new habitats such as wetlands, meadows and woodland to help prevent harmful levels of nutrients reaching the Solent.
Last year Bob wrote to the Environment Secretary about the impact of uncontrolled large-scale housing developments on wildlife in rivers and marine locations around the Island. He said:
“I am pleased the Government is taking steps to alleviate the damage caused to wildlife, salt marshes and seagrass beds by excessive nitrate levels in the Solent.
“Our Marine Conservation Zones are there to safeguard special wildlife and habitats so we must look to protect them. Of course, there is another way to reduce nitrogen levels in watercourses and that is to stop unnecessary greenfield development. I am working to persuade the Government to change its approach to housing which currently requires vast numbers of houses to be built on greenfield sites across the country.”
Debbie Tann, CEO of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said:
“Nitrate pollution in the Solent wreaks havoc with our vital marine ecosystems, suffocating the life out of our seas. This is a really critical issue and, until recently, every new house built simply added to the pressure.
“Now, thanks to Natural England and DEFRA, we are taking important steps towards addressing this problem – ensuring that houses can only be built if the nitrate impact is properly addressed.”
The nitrate trading platform pilot will be rolled out over the next 2 years and delivered jointly with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Natural England and the Environment Agency.