Norfolk Environmental Credits Joint Venture
- Meeting of Public Questions to the Cabinet 9.30 - 10.00am, Cabinet, Monday, 13th March, 2023 9.30 am (Item 41/23)
- View the background to item 41/23
Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning.
Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Strategic and Operational Planning presented the report that asked Members to agree that Breckland Council joined with other District Councils in Norfolk alongside Anglian Water in the Norfolk Environment Credits Joint Venture.
In March 2022 Natural England issued new guidance that informed local planning authorities to consider the impact of nutrient enrichment before planning permission could be granted. This had resulted in approximately 1000 planning applications within the district to be put temporarily on hold.
Breckland had worked with neighbouring Norfolk Authorities and had established the Norfolk Environmental Credits Joint Venture between Norfolk District Authorities and Anglian Water. The purpose of the Joint Venture would enable developers to purchase environmental credits and secure mitigation.
Councillor Wilkinson asked if the Authority would be able to make its own decisions or if Natural England would be required to authorise the planning permission. Simon Wood, Director for Planning and Building Control explained that the environmental credits would be granted on each application in close liaison with Natural England.
Councillor Morton asked if the scheme was well funded and if there were sufficient regulations to curtail any risk. Simon Wood explained that funding would also be available from other Districts and Anglian Water to help kickstart the process.
Councillor Kiddle-Morris applauded the initiative and asked if the sum of £30,000 would be dependent on the other Local Authorities agreeing to the Joint Venture. Councillor Suggitt explained that the funding would be from reserves and that enabling the initiative would allow planning income from the developments.
Councillor Claussen asked if there were measures in place to benefit the Breckland area by supporting smaller developers. Simon Wood explained that those considering the mitigation were keen to support the small / medium house builders. He added that as soon as a timeframe had been agreed Members would be informed.
Alternative options to the recommendation are:
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.
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.
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.
Reason for Recommendation(s)
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.
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.
- Nutrient Neutrality Joint Venture - Cabinet 13 March 2023..docx, item 41/23 PDF 291 KB
- Appendix 1 - Nutrient Neutrality Joint Venture -Draft Heads of Terms, item 41/23 PDF 281 KB
- Appendix 2 Proforma B, item 41/23 PDF 19 KB