Polluted rivers ‘halt house building’

New LGA analysis shows that more than 7 per cent of England’s planned house building cannot go ahead because of rising pollution levels in rivers.

The Habitats Directive, which was established to protect nature and biodiversity, can call a halt to development work where pollution levels are too high in nearby rivers, as well as in other areas, because of low water levels.

The LGA analysis shows 23 councils have more than 90 per cent of likely house building areas impacted by the law. 

Together, around 20,000 new homes a year will not be able to be built unless developers and councils can prove they will produce no additional pollution.

Without long-term action to clean up rivers, these special habitats will remain in challenging circumstances, and the building bans will continue to have profound impacts in many places, halting growth and infrastructure, and affecting jobs and council finances.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s Environment Spokesperson, said: “People need homes, schools and doctors’ surgeries, and a safe and clean environment. Councils are working tirelessly to enable house building while upholding high environmental standards. However, they cannot achieve this alone. We need to reduce pollution at source, which predominantly originates from water treatment and farming. 

“The Government and its agencies, house builders, the agricultural sector and water companies must all come together with councils to find short-term solutions, while doing everything we can to reduce pollution at source.”

The LGA is launching a nutrient and water neutrality policy inquiry to examine what can be done to reduce stresses on fragile environments.

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