- Government Fails to Ease “Nutrient Neutrality” Rules for Home Construction
- Environmental Concerns Drive House of Lords’ Rejection of Proposal
- Disagreements Over Policy Impact on Housing Development and Environment
Michael Gove intended to eliminate so-called “nutrient neutrality” regulations to increase home construction, but peers voted against the proposal, citing environmental concerns.
As a result of a rebellion in the Lords, the government has failed in its attempt to loosen restrictions on waterway pollution.
Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove unveiled the plan last month, stating that the elimination of so-called “nutrient neutrality” measures would liberate developers and result in the construction of tens of thousands more dwellings in England.
Peers rejected the Tory amendment introduced in the Lords, which would have attached the policy to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill because it posed an environmental risk.
In 2017, the European Union enacted nutrient neutrality regulations to prevent home builders from contaminating local wetlands and waterways in protected areas.
To obtain planning approval, businesses were required to demonstrate how they would prevent or compensate for pollution.
Developers argued that new homes made a “negligible contribution” to river pollution; therefore, repealing the measure would help expedite project development, as Gove and the government concurred.
However, opposition parties and environmental activists claimed it would exacerbate problems in the nation’s waterways.
Communities Minister Baroness Scott told peers that the proposed powers were “necessary and proportional.”
She stated that the current regulations had “effectively halted or completely blocked housing development in affected areas” and were “burdensome and costly.”
However, Labour’s Baroness Jones stated that eliminating the measure would establish a “dangerous precedent.”
And former Tory environment minister Lord Deben, who until recently chaired the Climate Change Committee, said it was “one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of legislation.”
Angela Rayner, the shadow leveling up secretary, referred to the policy’s defeat as “humiliating” for the government and characterized the “flawed plan” as an attempt to “score cheap political points”
She added, “We are prepared to sit down with the government, housebuilders, and environmental groups to find a workable solution for constructing the homes we require.”
If ministers decline this opportunity, they have only themselves to blame.
However, the Conservative Party stated on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Starmer and Labour have just voted to block 100,000 properties.
“Why? Politics of the short term over the requirements of British families.”
The current administration has pledged to construct 300,000 new dwellings annually by the middle of the 2020s.
The housing supply has increased annually from a low of 125,000 in 2012/13 to a high of 243,000 in 2019/20, according to parliamentary data, but has not yet reached the target.