Reports of no fresh legislation planned on nutrients issue confirmed

Fresh legislation to overhaul the nutrient pollution laws blamed for holding up the building of 150,000 homes was not included in today’s King’s Speech.

The current nutrient neutrality rules require that housing developments in specified areas do not add to pollution of waterways with nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphates.

Housing secretary Michael Gove told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference last month he wanted the rules to be scrapped “at the first available opportunity” and indicated he would bring back a bill to parliament in order to do it.


Today’s event was the new monarch’s first King’s Speech

The government’s original plan was to amend the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to allow housebuilders to effectively ignore evidence of nutrient pollution from housing development sites.

However, this was defeated in the House of Lords in September after Labour peers joined a revolt against the plan.

Parliamentary procedure prohibits further attempts to amend the levelling up bill, so ministers had been eyeing fresh legislation.

Today’s omission means the last chance to pass legislation on nutrient neutrality rules has now passed, confirming reports the government has dropped plans to legislate on the issue.

>>See also: How do we stop the nutrient neutrality problem holding up development?

>>See also: Nutrients: sometimes it is okay to ignore those who oppose development

Meanwhile, in his first speech as monarch, King Charles III today set out the government’s plans for the year ahead in Westminster.

He said the government “will deliver a long term plan to regenerate towns and put local people in control of the future of their towns”.

The government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which gained Royal Assent last month, overhauls planning and plan-making, reforms developer contributions and enshrines the government’s “levelling up missions” in law.

It also includes new ‘street vote’ powers, which would allow residents on a street to bring forward proposals to redevelop their properties in line with their design preferences.

The government is also planning to make it “easier for leaseholders to purchase their freehold and tackling the exploitation of millions of homeowners through punitive service charges”.

The Leasehold and Freehold Bill referred to by the King has long been promised by Gove who has described system of freeholders maintaining control over properties as “feudal”.

The planned legislation will make it cheaper and easier for existing leaseholders in houses and flats to extend their lease or buy their freehold by increasing the standard lease extension term from 90 years to 990 years for both houses and flats, with ground rent reduced to zero.

Arcadis partner Simon Rawlinson said: “With the exception of leasehold and freehold reform, there is little in this King’s Speech that helps or hinders the construction sector. Given the scale of change associated with recently passed Building Safety, Levelling-up and Energy legislation a pause to focus on implementation is no bad thing.”