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Wildlife protection plan to unlock Hampshire housebuilding - Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Natural England, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government,

Trailblazing new government-backed scheme to benefit both people and wildlife in the Solent.
Defra has today (11 September) announced £3.9 million to unlock housing growth in south Hampshire in a scheme that will reduce harmful nitrates and aid wildlife recovery.Housing growth has stalled in the Solent area for over a year due to concerns that nitrates were causing a range of negative environmental effects. These include excessive growth of green algae which smothers and damages rare habitats and wildlife, including the Solent’s internationally protected estuaries, salt marshes and seagrass beds, as well as protected birds including curlews.

Image of Eurasian Curlew bird walking on mud with green plants in background. (image: Natural England)
(image: Natural England)

The government will invest £3.9 million in the first-of-its-kind project to set up an online ‘nitrate trading’ auction platform. Through this, housing developers will buy credits to create new habitats such as meadows, woodlands and wetlands - which will prevent harmful levels of nitrates from new housing from reaching the Solent’s rare wildlife and habitats. This will also provide more outside spaces as part of government ambitions for a green, nature-based recovery from coronavirus.

Alongside this, a new nature reserve at Warblington Farm – a site covering 60 hectares of new woodlands and wetlands - opened this week, which will be funded through the credits which housing developers purchase. The new farm will help remove nitrates and in turn reduce pollution impacts on the Solent.

If the pilot is successful, it could be extended and rolled out to a number of other areas, providing a vital wider application to other parts of England. This will also inform the government’s wider work on market-based solutions to environmental issues – such as carbon offsetting, biodiversity net gain, water quality and flood risk management.

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