Fareham Borough Council faces High Court review questioning Natural England's nitrates advice

A JUDICIAL review is set to decide on plans for six homes in Fareham – and its focus on the Solent’s nitrate problem could have far reaching implications for developments across the south coast.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:47 pm

The High Court hearing next week will see campaigning group Save Warsash and the Western Wards challenge Fareham Borough Council’s decision to grant permission for the homes in Greenaway Lane.

The case will highlight the build-up of nitrates in the Solent, which was ruled as harmful to wildlife by Natural England and required a freeze on house building across the south coast throughout 2019.

Last year saw the government body and local authorities arrive at mitigating solutions – but the High Court case raises question whether Natural England’s advice is watertight.

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Solent mudflats. Picture: Mark Cox

Speaking to planning publication ENDS Report, Save Warsash chairwoman Hilary Megginson said residents believe there is a ‘legal obligation’ to improve the condition of the waterways around the proposed homes, rather than just offset any damages with mitigating projects located elsewhere.

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Councils have been relying on projects across the region – like rewilded farmland on the Isle of Wight – to offer ‘nitrate credits’, according to Fareham’s planning committee chairman Councillor Nick Walker, who is dreading the potential implications of the High Court case.

Addressing the group’s concerns, Cllr Walker said: ‘Having decided the nitrates solution in particular is not satisfactory, they have decided to challenge the council who have acted on Natural England’s advice. At the end of the day, they are challenging Natural England through Fareham Borough Council.

‘If the outcome is that Natural England have got it wrong, I dread to think what the implication will be all along the south coast with all these nitrates solutions.

‘It will be back to the drawing board if they are found wanting on the nitrates solution.’

Cllr Walker added: ‘In my own mind, I would see (the case) being a rather ridiculous thing to do, because they are challenging a government body – I'm surprised it’s even gone to a judge of any description.’

The judicial review will also look at Save Warsash’s claim that the council did not properly consult on the housing plans.

The campaigning group was approached for comment.

The three-day judicial review will begin on Tuesday, May 11.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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