Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment: Ashford, Kent


Do you need an SHRA (Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment) for you planning application, in Ashford, Kent? If you do please contact us and we can quote for a cost effective and timely service.

Why Do I need and SHRA?

The nutrient neutrality issue in Ashford, Kent, revolves around protecting the water quality of the Stour catchment, which has been negatively impacted by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients primarily come from sources like agriculture and wastewater treatment plants.

By Alex Lockton – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Here’s a breakdown of the issue:

The Problem:

  • Excess nutrients in the Stour catchment harm sensitive habitats like the internationally important Stodmarsh nature reserve, so an Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment is needed.
  • To address this, Natural England implemented regulations requiring “nutrient neutrality” for new developments. This means any development that adds nutrients through wastewater needs to find ways to offset that impact elsewhere.

The Impact:

  • This requirement has significantly impacted building projects in Ashford, as around 90% of planned development sites fall within the affected area.
  • Many planning applications have been put on hold, hindering housing development and causing economic concerns, unless a Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment can be provided, and then not even then!

The Controversy:

  • Local authorities like Ashford Borough Council argue that the onus shouldn’t solely fall on them to address a wider issue beyond their control.
  • They emphasize that water companies and the Environment Agency, responsible for water quality, should share the responsibility.
  • The government initially proposed changes to lessen the burden on local authorities, but these were met with opposition and not enacted.

Current Status:

  • As of October 2023, the government is working on a new bill to address the nutrient neutrality issue, aiming to shift responsibility to relevant bodies. But this was voted out, owing to being so poorly written. And as such for the time being the issue remains.
  • Ashford Borough Council continues to seek solutions for development while the new bill takes shape.

Further Resources:

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