River Axe Special Area of Conservation
On 16 March 2022, this Council, along with others within Devon and Dorset, received a letter from Natural England that confirmed the River Axe Special Area of Conservation (SAC) was in an unfavourable condition and therefore local planning authorities would need to consider the adverse impacts of new development on the designated habitat site.
The advice required that the local planning authorities as the Competent Authority under the Habitats Regulations Assessment to consider the nutrients impacts of any new plans and projects and whether those impacts may have an adverse effect upon the integrity of a habitats site that requires mitigation through nutrient neutrality.
The advice is relevant to all types of overnight accommodation including new homes, student accommodation, care homes, tourism attractions and tourist accommodation and permitted developments (which gives rise to new overnight accommodation) under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
This advice applies to the environs of the Blackdown Hills.
Due to work undertaken by Royal Haskoning in updating the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment Map, there are areas of slight inconsistency between the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment map boundary and that prepared by Natural England to define the extent of the River Axe catchment. Natural England are aware of this boundary inconsistency and are looking to revise their map. Where development is proposed at the boundary between the two catchments, or it is not clear which catchment is relevant you are advised to contact the development management team with your query.
The River Axe Evidence Pack note confirms the levels of phosphorous within the various units of the River Axe. In August 2022, Natural England provided further advice upon the quality of the River Axe in an updated Evidence Pack document.
In addition to the documents provided by Natural England, the Chief Planner for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DHLUC) also wrote to all local authorities on 16th March providing an update upon Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities position and support available for each catchment.