River Tone Phosphate Credit (P-Credit) Scheme

In the River Tone catchment area, Somerset Council has its own P-Credit Scheme which is supported by the former Somerset West and Taunton Interim Strategy.

River Tone P-Credits are allocated, maintained and monitored by us.

To date, we have run two rounds of the River Tone P-Credit Scheme. This has allocated c. 11 no. of River Tone P-Credits to development to allow them to be able to demonstrate nutrient neutrality.

What is a River Tone P-Credit?

1 River Tone P-Credit equals 1kg of phosphates removed per year.

We are aware that some developments will not require a whole River Tone P-Credit to offset the phosphate impact of their proposed development. As such these P-Credits are available in tenths. For example, an applicant can secure 0.1 River Tone P-Credit.

How much is a River Tone P-Credit?

A River Tone P-Credit costs £53,652.

River Tone P-Credit applications will also be subject to legal and monitoring fees.

Who can apply?

You can apply to join the River Tone P-Credit Scheme from Somerset Council if you have a proposed housing development within the River Tone catchment area. Check if you are in the relevant area by viewing the catchment map available here.

For the purposes of the River Tone P-Credit scheme ‘housing development’ is defined as development (of any size) that is seeking planning permission for C3 Use Classes or traveller accommodation.

You must have a valid planning application submitted to Somerset Council Area West Planning Department to apply for River Tone P-Credits.

Outline planning applications are currently not being considered for Round 3 River Tone P-Credits. This is because all planning applications in receipt of River Tone P-Credits are required to commence development within 3 months of planning permission being granted (unless otherwise agreed by the Local Planning Authority).

Applications will be accepted from:

  • Individuals
  • Housing developers of any size
  • Planning agents or consultants working on behalf of an individual or a developer

When to apply

Round 3 of the River Tone P-Credit Scheme will open from 9am on Tuesday 30 January 2024 to 11:59pm on Tuesday 27 February 2024.

You can apply for River Tone P-Credits before receiving planning permission, but as noted above you must have submitted a valid planning application with Somerset Council.

How to apply

To apply for River Tone P-Credits, please email creditapplications.phosphates@somerset.gov.uk

Please only use this email address for the submission of River Tone P-Credit applications, general queries should be sent to phosphates@somerset.gov.uk

Your email should be accompanied by:

If your application does not include the above information, it will not be progressed further.

How will River Tone P-credits be allocated?

For Round 3, River Tone P-Credits will be allocated based on the prioritisation criteria agreed by the Somerset Council Strategic Planning Committee on 19 October 2023. The report is available here: Phosphate committee report October 23. As noted above, in order to apply your proposed development must meet the following:

  • proposed development for C3 housing use classes or traveller accommodation.
  • must not have been submitted in outline
  • must be able to commence within 3 months of planning permission being granted (unless otherwise agreed with the Local Planning Authority)

Please note, that in Round 3 a total of 10 no. River Tone P-Credits have been ‘ring fenced’ and will only be allocated to planning applications for minor development (such as development of under 10 dwellings).

Once your application for River Tone P-Credits has been submitted, it will be placed on a ‘hold list’. When your planning application is ready to proceed (and there are no outstanding planning matters to resolve other than phosphates), your Case Officer will refer you to the Area West Phosphates Team.

If your application for River Tone P-Credits is successful

If your application for River Tone P-credits is successful the Area West Phosphates Team will confirm this to you by letter and will communicate the next steps for your planning application to be determined.

You will be required to submit a Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). A template which may assist this process is available here: Somerset Council Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment Template.

You may wish to seek specialist assistance to complete this. Natural England will be consulted on this document once the Area West Phosphates Team has confirmed it is acceptable for Somerset Council, as competent authority, to adopt as the HRA for your proposed development.

Please note all planning applications seeking to acquire River Tone P-Credits will be subject to a Section 106 Agreement. A template Section 106 Agreement is available here: Phosphates template s106 agreement. You should check that you are happy with the terms of this Agreement before submitting your application for P-Credits.

If your application is successful, the payment terms are as detailed within the Section 106 Agreement. An initial deposit payment of 10% of your total P-Credit cost will be payable upon the issue of planning permission, the remaining 90% will be payable prior to the commencement of development.

If your application for River Tone P-Credits is unsuccessful

The Area West Phosphates Team will let you know by email if your application is unsuccessful. Your application may be unsuccessful if:

  • your development is not in the River Tone catchment area
  • your development does not meet the prioritisation criteria for Round 3 River Tone P-credits
  • you have not submitted the correct requested information within a reasonable timeframe (including during the Section 106 Agreement process)
  • there are insufficient River Tone P-Credits left available to allocate to your proposed development in the current round. Natural England did not have enough credits left to allocate during the current application round
  • you did not pay the invoice

If your application has been unsuccessful, the options are:

  1. To find an alternative phosphate mitigation solution (please see the Nutrient Neutrality in Somerset Guidance for Applicants for further information on potential options).
  2. Withdraw your planning application (you can resubmit at a later date when you have a phosphate mitigation solution and you may be eligible for a ‘free go’).

If you are unable to provide an alternative solution for phosphate mitigation, within a reasonable timeframe and do not withdraw your application, it may be recommended for refusal or finally disposed of.

Last reviewed: February 16, 2024 by Jenny

Next review due: August 16, 2024

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