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Stodmarsh Nutrient Neutrality

This section of the website contains information about Stodmarsh and nutrient neutrality.

Nutrient Neutrality Methodology (Updated March 2024)

In February 2024, Natural England updated the nutrient neutrality calculator to include the planned Wastewater Treatment Works upgrades scheduled for 2030. All applications should now use this updated methodology to calculate the scale of nutrient mitigation required.

View and download the 2024 Nutrient Budget Calculator

View Natural England's guidance on how to use the nutrient calculator

View the Natural England Methodology and Advice:

View the information needed to accompany planning applications.

Leader's announcement (October 2023)

Please see below an announcement by the Leader on nutrient neutrality:

Ashford Borough Council Leader's Briefing - Ashford responds to the national context (October 2023)

Recently, the Government proposed amendments to the emerging Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill which would have removed the need to consider nutrient neutrality matters at a local decision-making level within the affected river catchments across the country.

Although these amendments were defeated in the House of Lords, the intent remains clear. Indeed, the Government recently reinforced this intent and indicated that they will submit a new bill to address the issue as part of the King’s Speech on 7 November.

The Council welcomes the fact that the Government are now finally acting. The nutrient neutrality issue is, and should have always been, an issue for the highest levels of Government, with the key bodies actually responsible for water quality being accountable and delivering the solution. It cannot be appropriate for Natural England, the water companies and the Environment Agency to simply pass this burden onto Local Planning authorities to resolve.

However, this activity at the national level clearly necessitates a review of the Council’s previously stated aim of delivering strategic wetlands within the borough as a means of providing mitigation for housing proposals currently caught by the need to be nutrient neutral and which are unable to deliver their own mitigation solutions.

Accordingly, the Council is now pausing work on progressing these strategic mitigation schemes with immediate effect.

This is the only responsible response to the changed position at the national level and the Council cannot be expected to invest significant sums of money, at our own risk, for something that may not be required in the foreseeable future.

Whilst we await the measures the Government intends to bring forward to deal with this issue, the Council will remain focused on identifying available and deliverable forms of nutrient mitigation that can enable a limited scale of new housing to be progressed. This could include implementing appropriate changes in the use of small amounts of land within its ownership and improvements to the water efficiency of its existing housing stock in the catchment.

A number of these improvements have been planned for some time but accelerating this process will mean that these water efficiency benefits can then be utilised for targeted new Council housing schemes, enabling them to progress and be built. These schemes bring vital benefits by delivering new affordable homes for local people whilst helping existing tenants reduce their water usage and their water bills.

This targeted approach is pragmatic and demonstrates that the Council is doing what it realistically can to allow development to come forward whilst central Government addresses the strategic approach to dealing with this issue.

What is the Council doing?

For development proposals, which can’t mitigate on-site, the Council is preparing a borough Mitigation Strategy. This Mitigation Strategy will be a series of short, medium and long term solutions.

Please note: Following the Leader's announcement in October 2023, work on the Mitigation Strategy is currently paused.

This website will be updated in due course with any updates.

Please see below for the previous progress on the borough Mitigation Strategy.

March 2023

An update was given on 30 March at Cabinet on the Council's progress towards delivering a strategic mitigation solution.  The report also set out the broad scope of a future Nutrient Neutrality Supplementary Planning Document.

View the March 2023 Cabinet report.

October 2022

An update was given on 27 October at Cabinet on the Council's response to the nutrient neutrality.  The report includes updates on the progression of strategic wetlands and Natural England funding opportunities.

View the October 2022 Cabinet report.

March 2022

An update was given on 31 March at Cabinet on the Council’s response to nutrient neutrality.  As part of this report, Cabinet agreed to adopt an Operational Statement setting out the partnership working approach with Natural England, Environment Agency and Kent County Council, to deliver strategic wetlands.

View the March 2022 Cabinet report [pdf] 1MB

View the Stodmarsh Operational Statement [pdf] 904KB

July 2021 Update

In July 2021, Cabinet agreed to pursue the creation of strategic wetlands, as part of the borough Mitigation Strategy.  View the July 2021 Cabinet report [pdf] 342KB

Planning applications relying on strategic nutrient mitigation

Should you choose to submit an application that relies upon strategic nutrient mitigation, please continue to prepare the nutrient calculations and provide these together with any additional information required (in accordance with the relevant guidance and Natural England calculator) and submit these as part of the planning application.

Please also confirm in a covering letter that you intend to wait for strategic nutrient mitigation.