Nutrient Neutrality Offset Scheme

Find out about Eastleigh Borough Council's nutrient neutrality offset land and how developers can apply for nitrate credits through our scheme.

The nutrient neutrality problem

Excesses of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous making their way into bodies of water is a well-documented problem, and the waterways and coastlines of the Solent region, which are protected under a variety of legislation thanks to their internationally important ecology, are far from an exception.

Nutrients from different man-made sources, including agricultural fertilizers and household wastewater, enter waterways through a variety of means, such as direct drainage and groundwater run-off. Once these nutrients make their way into rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, the effects can be seriously problematic for local wildlife.

One such problem faced as a result of excessive nutrients in waterways is the growth of thick layers of algae, which deprive the plants beneath of light, reducing levels of oxygen in the water, and causing disruption to the ecosystems they affect.

The development challenge

New development is vital for the Solent region and with Hampshire’s population projected to reach 1.48 million by 2036, (ONS, 2016), the need for new housing is well established. However, with future developments expected to be one of the significant contributors to nitrogen pollution in the Solent’s waterways, developers in the region face a significant challenge in managing unwanted pollution from their sites. 

Any mitigation approach that a developer takes should also be specific to the waterways they are most likely to affect. The Solent region is made up of six ‘fluvial catchment’ zones that indicate which areas of land affect which waterways – developers should make sure that their nutrient offsetting efforts occur within the same region as their developments.

Eastleigh Borough Council's response

In response to the established problem of nitrate pollutants, and to help ensure that developments achieve nutrient neutrality, Eastleigh Borough Council has put a scheme in place so that developers can offset their nutrient outputs against council land through the purchase of credits.

The initiative is a key part of Eastleigh Borough Council’s Climate Change and Environmental Emergency action plan, and supports the Housing Development and Healthy Communities themes outlined in the Council’s Corporate Action Plan 2015 - 2025.

Eastleigh Borough Council's nutrient neutrality offer

Eastleigh Borough Council currently has 3633 credits (1 credit = 1 kilogram of nitrates per year) across 78.5 hectares of council-owned land. The cost per credit is £3000 + VAT. We will also require an undertaking for our legal and administrative costs.

To date the nitrate credits being made available by Eastleigh Borough Council are all through the cessation of farming practices and do not rely on any proactive interventions ie creation of wetland, planting of woodland, installation of nitrate retaining SUDs features, or similar.

The cost of a nitrate credit from Eastleigh Borough Council has been determined as part of the land purchase business case for the nitrate offset land and is in line with other offset schemes in the region.

The map below indicates the land that Eastleigh Borough Council is using to mitigate nutrient output from development. The boundaries on the map indicate the region’s fluvial catchments.

Fluvial Catchments Full Map With Labels

A: Bishopstoke

  • Total land area for nutrient offsetting: 10.3 Hectares
  • Total credits: 250
  • Available Credits:198

B: West End

  • Total land area for nutrient offsetting: 41.2 Hectares
  • Total credits: 1818
  • Available Credits: 936

C: Botley

  • Total land area for nutrient offsetting: 27 Hectares
  • Total credits: 1565
  • Available Credits: 834

How to apply

To begin the process of purchasing nitrate credits from Eastleigh Borough Council, please fill out the Expression of Interest form and return to nutrientoffset@eastleigh.gov.uk.

Once an Expression of Interest form has been received, we will confirm whether credits are available to meet the anticipated need, so that the process below can be followed.

  1. Developer & Local Planning Authority go through planning process as usual.
  2. Local Planning Authority confirms offset requirement and suitability of Eastleigh Borough Council scheme to Eastleigh Borough Council.
  3. Eastleigh Borough Council confirms credits are still available.
  4. Local Planning Authority grants consent (probably with a pre-start or Grampian condition relating to nitrate mitigation.
  5. Developer buys credits from Eastleigh Borough Council.
  6. Eastleigh Borough Council issues vesting certificate to developer.
  7. Developer applies to Local Planning Authority for discharge of condition.