Somerset Council is calling on landowners to help unlock the delivery of new homes across the area by promoting their land for important nature-based solutions to development requirements.

The ‘call for sites’ is seeking submissions of land for the potential delivery of phosphate mitigation schemes and Biodiversity Net Gain to support the delivery of new development in Somerset.

The Council has been working to minimise delay and uncertainty around planning applications since receiving advice from Natural England about the requirement to mitigate against high levels of phosphates in the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site.

Building on its nutrient strategy, the council has a bespoke phosphate calculator to enable applicants to calculate their phosphate load, and one of the first Local Authority led phosphate credits schemes in England. It also has S106 agreements in place with a number of third party credit schemes.

Alongside this, a national mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain requirement came into effect on 12 February 2024, introducing the need to demonstrate and deliver at least 10% Biodiversity Net Gain on planning permissions.

The “call for sites” aims to gauge the level of interest from landowners, land promoters and land managers, with sites put forward to be assessed through a transparent process and criteria.

Prioritised phosphate mitigation sites will go on to negotiate a legal agreement and where eligible, a price for the Council to purchase the arising P-Credits using some of the £9.6m secured from the Government’s Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund.

BNG schemes will go on to negotiate a legal agreement, which can then be logged on the national biodiversity gain sites register, so that they can sell resulting biodiversity units to developers.

Cllr Ros Wyke, Lead Member for Economic Development, Planning, and Assets, said:

“Somerset Council has been leading the way in efforts to the address the issue of nutrient neutrality which is affecting local authorities across the country and has prevented the determination of a significant number of planning applications.

“We are keen to work with landowners using the mitigation funding we have secured to unlock applications in Somerset and enable developers to build the houses we need.”

Councillor Dixie Darch Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change, said:

“Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development and land management that provides benefits to people and nature and reduces impacts on the wider environment in line with our priority to be a greener and more sustainable council.

“By enabling off-site solutions in Somerset we are providing further options for developers to meet the new Biodiversity Net Gain regulations and support them through the process, whilst supporting local nature recovery and green finance opportunities.”

An online briefing session will be held from 1pm-2pm on Friday 24 May 2024, providing a chance to understand more about the ‘call for sites’ process and what we are looking for, as well as an opportunity for questions and answers.

Details will be on our webpage where you can also review the guidance before submitting a site for consideration –

Landscape view of Somerset countryside

About this article

May 21, 2024

Debbie Rundle

Climate Emergency

Press Release