Norfolk Environmental Credits Joint Venture
Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To agree to join a joint venture
1. Breckland Council agreed to enter into a Joint Venture (a company limited by guarantee) with Anglian Water and one or more local authorities in Norfolk for the provision of environmental credits (initially focussing on addressing nutrient neutrality) in accordance with the attached draft heads of terms.
2. £30,000 revenue be committed in 2023/24 as part of establishing the Joint Venture. The purpose of the funding would be to establish the operating model in year one, after which there would be full recovery of the operating costs as part of the credit income.
3. the Deputy Chief Executive in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Operational Planning be delegated authority to finalise the details of the joint venture agreement and operating arrangements and enter into the Joint Venture.
Reasons for the decision:
To provide the Council with a vehicle to deliver nutrient neutrality credits alongside other options to deliver housing development in line with national and local planning guidance.
Alternative options considered:
Option 1 - To require Natural England to produce the whole nutrient neutrality solution for Norfolk. Natural England has indicated that they will focus on the nature and land-based solutions. This option is not recommended as a way forward. A mixed economy of mitigation will need to be delivered to meet the requirements. Any nature-based solutions are also unlikely to be operational in the short term and Natural England will only be able to meet a portion of the nutrient requirement.
Option 2 - To pass responsibility to some other third party or investment vehicle to run a credit-based scheme for developers to access. This is not, by itself, recommended as a way forward. There is a significant role for other providers to be part of the solution and Breckland is actively working with third parties to support the provision of an additional credit-based system.
Option 3 - Do nothing. Allowing the market to develop credits themselves alongside the Natural England nature and land-based offer. Developers can trade between themselves and develop their own mitigation plans. This is not recommended as a way forward. There is no indication of how long this would take to become established and many of the developers are small and medium sized enterprises that will not be able to develop their own solutions.
Report author: Simon Wood
Publication date: 14/03/2023
Date of decision: 13/03/2023
Decided at meeting: 13/03/2023 - Cabinet
Effective from: 22/03/2023