SSDC is taking measures to protect the Somerset Levels and Moors when determining planning submissions following advice from Natural England.
Parts of the district fall within the Somerset Levels and Moors which are designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Habitat Regulations 2017 and listed as a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention.
The Council has received a letter from Natural England concerning high levels of phosphates in the Somerset Levels and Moors and stressing the need to protect them from further phosphate pollution.
In light of a court Judgement (known as Dutch N), Natural England have advised SSDC that, in light of the unfavourable condition of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site, before determining a planning application/submission that may give rise to additional phosphates within the catchment, competent authorities should undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).
The types of development include:
- New residential units – including tourist accommodation, gypsy sites /pitches
- Commercial developments – new commercial floorspace including extensions to existing, change of use from one business to another where there is an increase in employees and/or to a use that would impact on wastewater
- Agricultural Development – additional barns, slurry stores etc. where it is likely to lead to an increase in herd size
- Prior Notifications of agricultural development where, as a result of the development, the herd size may increase. Also, prior notifications for change of use of office to dwellings and agricultural buildings to dwellings
- Anaerobic Digesters
- Possibly some tourism attractions
We are working with Somerset Ecology Services as our consultant ecologists and Natural England to find a solution as quickly as possible. We will update this page with further information as soon as we are able to keep you informed of progress.
This means the Council is currently unable to determine some applications until the impact the development would have on phosphate levels has been addressed.